4 key controls in preventing manual handling injuries
Authored by QBE Senior Risk Manager Simon MacLean
Musculoskeletal disorders account for around a third of work-related injuries.
Through October and November, construction sites across Great Britain are being visited by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to raise awareness of health issues around moving and manual handling of materials and to ensure that employers and workers know the risks involved.
'Manual handling’ relates to the moving of items by lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing or pulling, and is one of the most common causes of injuries at work. Last year, 40,000 construction workers suffered from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), injuries, aches, pain and discomfort in joints, muscles and bones.
Heavy manual labour, awkward posture and repetitive movements can all contribute to cumulative damage and acute injury. These injuries can have a serious impact on workers’ ability to perform everyday tasks, their quality of life and in some cases their ability to earn a living. Many people can and do suffer from long-term pain and discomfort.
Four key controls for manual handling
A considerable proportion of workplace injuries result from poor controls or supervision. To maintain the wellbeing of workers, employers are required to provide health and safety information and training, which includes specific information and training on manual handling risks and controls to prevent injury.
With more than 30 years of insuring construction firms, we believe there are four key areas to actively controlling the risks from manual handling.
- Develop a specific manual handling process which provides clarity and consistency of approach for controlling manual handling risks.
- When manual handling hazards are identified as part of the general risk assessment process, have this lead to a more detailed task specific manual handling assessment. This assessment must use the hierarchy of control and where possible eliminate the risk though avoiding the activity or using mechanical means.
- Training and awareness are vital in reducing the risk of manual handling injuries. Managers and supervisors must be proactive in challenging and correcting poor behaviours and technique before an incident occurs.
- Understand the ergonomics of the work activity and ensure these suit the individual employee’s capabilities. Not all employees will have the same ability to undertake manual handling activities.
Download our free manual handling risk insight
QBE helps businesses build resilience through risk management and insurance.
To help construction firms provide best practice approaches to controlling risk, we have produced a range of easy-to-read guidance documents. You can find our free manual handling risk insight here. The insight forms part of our Construction Toolkit suite of management information available to our customers.
You can find out more about how QBE helps businesses to manage risk here.
Need to claim? Report it early
Finally, remember that if you have an incident and need to make an insurance claim, it’s important that you report it as soon as possible, ideally the same day. Reporting a claim early can save time and help you to receive any claim payments faster, as well as allowing us to help mitigate the cost of third-party claims.
QBE European Operations is part of QBE Insurance Group, one of the world’s leading international insurers and reinsurers and Standard & Poor’s A+ rated. Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, QBE’s gross written premium for the year ended 31 December 2018 was US$13.7 billion.
As a business insurance specialist, QBE European Operations offers a range of insurance products from the standard suite of property, casualty and motor to the specialist financial lines, marine and energy. All are tailored to the individual needs of our small, medium and large client base.
We understand the crucial role that effective risk management plays in all organisations and work hard to understand our clients’ businesses so that we offer insurance solutions that meet their needs – from complex programmes to simpler e-trading solutions – and support them in minimising their risk exposures. Our expert risk management and rehabilitation practitioners focus on helping clients improve their risk management so that they may benefit from a reduction in claims frequency and costs.