The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 is very clear about what an employer’s obligations are in the workplace. The Regulations state that where manual handling is unavoidable, employers must conduct an exhaustive risk assessment in order to identify all potential risks that could result from different activities. Once the risks are identified, employers are legally required to take appropriate steps to minimise those risks.
The Regulations further state that this risk assessment should not be limited to injuries resulting from moving or lifting materials at work. The risk assessment must be all-encompassing and include all risks that could possibly arise from any manual handling activity.
Individual traits of the employees performing any manual handling activities must also be taken into consideration when conducting risk assessments in the workplace. Employers must consider these factors:
- The strength and capability of the individual worker;
- The frequency with which the worker needs to undertake any manual handling activity;
- The size and weight of the items to be moved;
- The distance that any item is to be moved;
- Any rest or break that the worker can avail of.
If manual handling cannot be entirely eliminated, after conducting the risk assessment, employers must take all possible precautionary measures to reduce the risk of injury to workers. As an example for preventing back injury from lifting at work these measures would include providing adequate lifting equipment as well as extensive training in the right way to lift and hoist heavy items.
If your employer fails to provide you with the proper equipment and training and if you sustain any manual handling injury at work, the employer may be liable to compensate you for your injuries.