Why is it that injuries and ill health from manual handling activities in the workplace still accounts for so much lost time in UK businesses? It’s been over 20 years since the Manual Handling regulations came into force and yet so little appears to have changed for many people at work.
Let’s be clear the main reasons for health & safety regulations is that if they aren’t there then many businesses wouldn’t consider the need to control the risks they pertain too. In the case of Manual handling the risks to people’s long term health has been a concern for many years; yet still businesses tend to ignore this. Statistics show that around 70% of people will be suffering with or have suffered with back problems by the time they retire; a startling fact yet what are UK businesses doing to keep their staff fit and well?
All too often the answer is they may provide manual handling training as part of induction and have a policy that suggests that staff avoid handling wherever possible. Ask yourself, is this what your business does and if the answer is yes, then do you know how many people are suffering with back problems.
The regulations state that as a business you need to complete manual handling risk assessments; yet clearly this often does not occur and if it does it’s not done effectively. Let’s be clear, trying to determine what the risks to your employees is can often be difficult to determine unless you know how they actually work rather than how you think they do.
What businesses need to think about is the way they train their staff; there are opportunities to ensure this is done in a more effective way. The key is that training needs to get personal and make staff understand what the downside is of doing things repeatedly the wrong way. It’s only when our staff start to understand that long term back injuries can have such a negative impact on their life quality and how these health issues won’t just go away. Even then it’s important they realise that these injuries can happen to them in order to get them to start to think differently.