Health Topics - Musculoskeletal

The avoidance of injury is an issue that should be considered initially at the design stage of a project, with the specification, where possible, of lightweight materials that will be handled manually.

What is manual handling?

  • shovelling concrete
  • pulling a lever
  • carrying a ladder
  • operating a power tool

Which parts of your body are at risk?

The most common areas to be affected are the back, knees, neck and shoulders

You are most at risk when:

  • it is a cold day - your body is prone to injury when your muscles are cold
  • you have been away from work for 2 weeks or more
  • you are working under pressure, eg. high job demands, time pressures and lack of control

What are the warning signs?

  • pain, tingling or numbness
  • burning sensation
  • shooting or stabbing pains
  • stiffness
  • swelling or inflammation
  • aching

What should you do?

Contractors should avoid the need for hazardous manual handling, assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling that remains, and reduce the risk of injury from manual handling operations so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • use equipment to help with the job, eg. hoists, pallet trucks, mechanical lifting aids
  • get someone to help with the lift

If you have to use manual handling, use good techniques:

  • bend your knees, not your back
  • split the load into smaller/lighter loads wherever possible
  • make sure your body is warm before you lift anything (this reduces the risk of injury)

For further guidance and free leaflets click here.

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