Health and safety legislation in manual handling

Health and safety legislation means that many jobs that used to be done manually, now require handling and lifting equipment to do the same job. The Health and Safety Executive reports that manual handling activities are the major cause of physical injury in industry. Manual handling injuries are the cause over 30% of all reported injuries. Therefore, the HSE has helped contribute to the industry's list of priorities for manual handling and at the top of the list is the need to use mechanical aids wherever possible when stacking or moving goods.

The importance of health and safety has also led in recent years to a gradual decrease in the unit weights of sacks and boxes used in the production process. Traditionally, manufacturers and distributors would often use sacks weighing over 50kg, but given the safe weight for most people to lift is around half that, recently the average from suppliers has been around 25kg. Even in these cases, however, a risk assessment is still required to ensure that employees’ safety is not compromised.

Heavier loads should only be considered if lifting equipment is always available, even when the load is thought to be light enough for someone to lift manually. Employers should ensure that there are no difficult areas to negotiate so that the manual handling gear can move the goods without hindrance.

The latest handling and lifting equipment helps make the job easier and more efficient for all. As the supply chain becomes more complex, having access to such equipment all the time can only be beneficial and will save time and money.