Has HSE published any guidelines on ‘team handling’?
The guidance that accompanies the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended) stipulates the following in respect to team handling:
"Handling by two or more people may make possible an operation that is beyond the capability of one person, or reduce the risk of injury to a single handler. However, team handling may introduce additional problems which the assessment should consider. During the handling operation the proportion of the load that is borne by each member of the team will inevitably vary to some extent. Such variation is likely to be more pronounced on sloping or uneven ground. Therefore, the load that a team can handle safely is less than the sum of the loads that the individual team members could cope with when working alone. "As an approximate guide, the capability of a two-person team is two-thirds the sum of their individual capabilities and for a three-person team the capability is half the sum of their individual capabilities. Teams of more than four members are unlikely to work successfully. If steps or slopes must be negotiated, most of the weight may be borne by the handler or handlers at the lower end, further reducing the capability of the team as a whole. "There may be additional difficulties if: team members get in the way of each others' sight or movement; or the load does not have enough good handholds. This can occur particularly with compact loads which force the handlers to work close together or where the space available for movement is limited; or the background noise level is too high to allow easy communication between team members. "For safe team handling there should be enough space for the handlers to manoeuvre as a group. They should have adequate access to the load, and the load should provide sufficient handholds. If the load is particularly small or difficult to grasp, then a handling aid such as a stretcher or slings should be used. One person should plan and then take charge of the operation, ensuring that movements are co-ordinated. However, there should be good communication between team members. "When team handling is being carried out to handle a person, the person being handled should be included in the communication where possible. A clear protocol should be agreed between the team about timing for the lift. This is particularly necessary when the team contains employees from different agencies, for example, fire service and ambulance staff, who may have their own preferred instructions. Team members should preferably be of similar build and physical capability. Where the weight of the load is unevenly distributed, the strongest members of the team should take the heavier end." Reference Manual handling. Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended). Guidance on Regulations L23 (Third edition) HSE Books 2004 ISBN 0 7176 2823 X , price £8.95 This publication is available from HSE Books.