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A ‘largely avoidable risk’

25 March 2022

Manual handling injuries are common throughout the logistics industry. With the right training in place, they are largely avoidable, but many operations overlook this due to time and budget constraints, says Alex Samson.

ONE OF the reasons there are so many manual handling injuries could be that many activities can be classed as manual handling. Imagine, for example, someone working in the chilled section of a grocery store, stacking butter on the shelves from a box. They twist, and bend, moving up and down all day, in a cold environment. This is manual handling. 

Many people are unaware that:

  • The load needn’t be heavy or large
  • Pushing and pulling count
  • You don’t need to be using your hands, so long as your body is involved
  • The load doesn’t need to be an object: it can be a person or animal
  • Anything you do to move or support the weight of a load using applied force counts

Worryingly, the logistics industry has a rate of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), 50% higher than the national average. Manual handling injuries are the second most common injury type suffered in the workplace, and the main cause of MSDs. There were 162,000 new work-related cases reported in 2021. Something needs to change.

Training and development are key to eliminating safety risks in the workplace. It helps educate employees on safe and unsafe practices, and keeps those safe practices front of mind in warehouse, transport, and logistics operations.

However, to be effective, the training course content must be designed to deliver ‘why’ as well as ‘how’ to learners and it needs to be delivered in a format that suits the audience -this could be eLearning, classroom learning or a blend of both. 

Whatever method of delivery works best, course content should be industry specific and cover a range of the real manual handling tasks encountered in supply chain operations. This enables learners to easily apply correct manual handling techniques to their day-to-day roles. 

To be effective, the training course content must be designed to deliver ‘why’ as well as ‘how’ to learners and it needs to be delivered in a format that suits the audience.

RTITB’s Manual Handling in Transport, Warehousing, and Logistics’ course has been developed to cater for a wide audience –available as an in-person course or eLearning option. It is designed to address important issues such as anatomy, risk assessment, individual capability, and technique.

Online learning became a necessity due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and while many found it beneficial and there is a continued appetite for eLearning, some still prefer classroom-based training. There are also those who respond better to a blended approach of both online and classroom-based. This may be influenced by generation. 

For instance, Baby Boomers tend to be more partial to classroom /lecture-style learning, whereas Generation Y who have grown up online, will be more swayed towards eLearning. Millennials and Generation X however, often like a blended learning mix of both. 

Manual handling injuries, and the resulting absenteeism, can mean many lost days for a business. All because the company has overlooked training. The investment of time and money into training is always preferable to losing operational time, paying for cover staff, and all the other associated costs. 

By investing in manual handling training, logistics, warehousing, and transport operations can begin to tackle this industry-wide issue around manual handling. It is time for employers to take a more holistic approach to training and operations, with the ultimate goal of reducing the risk of any type of incident and injury in the workplace. 

Alex Samson, director of systems & learning development, RTITB

Alex will speak on this subject at the Safer Logistics Theatre at the Health and Safety Event. Watch him speak daily at the NEC Birmingham, from 5-7 April 2022. 

For more information, visit www.rtitb.com