What should a manual handling training course involve?
The relevant legislation is the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended). With regards to training, the guidance to the Regulations states:
"Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and regulations 10 and 13 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to provide their employees with health and safety information and training. This should be supplemented as necessary with more specific information and training on manual handling injury risks and prevention, as part of the steps to reduce risk required by regulation 4(1)(b)(ii) of the Regulations. "The risk of injury from a manual handling task will be increased where workers do not have the information or training necessary to enable them to work safely. For example, if they do not know about any unusual characteristics of loads or about the system designed to ensure their safety during manual handling, this may lead to injury. It is essential that where, for example, mechanical handling aids are available, training is provided in their proper use. "The provision of information and training alone will not ensure safe manual handling. The first objective in reducing the risk of injury should be to design the manual handling operations to be as safe as is reasonably practicable. This will involve improving the task, the working environment and reducing the load weight as appropriate. Where possible the manual handling operations should be designed to suit individuals, not the other way round. Effective training has an important part to play in reducing the risk of manual handling injury. It should not be regarded as a substitute for a safe system of work. "Employers should make sure that their employees understand clearly how manual handling operations have been designed to ensure their safety. Employees, their safety representatives and safety committees should be involved in developing and implementing manual handling training, and monitoring its effectiveness. his will include, for example, checking that any training is actually being put into practice and that accident rates have reduced. As with assessors, if in-house personnel are used to act as trainers, suitable checks should be made to ensure that they have understood the information given to them and have reached an adequate level of competence. "HSE does not publish prescriptive guidance on what a 'good' manual handling training course should include or how long it should last. However, in general, courses should be suitable for the individual, tasks and environment involved, use relevant examples and last long enough to cover all the relevant information, Such information is likely to include advice on: manual handling risk factors and how injuries can occur; how to carry out safe manual handling, including good handling technique; appropriate systems of work for the individual's task and environment; use of mechanical aids; and practical work to allow the trainer to identify and put right anything the trainee is not doing safely. "Employers should ensure they keep sufficient records to show who has been trained, when the training was carried out and what the content of the course was. Employers should establish a planned training programme to ensure all staff receive basic training, with updates as required. This programme should also cover new starters to try to ensure training takes place either before or as close to starting a new job as possible. Managers may also wish to monitor sickness absence and near-miss reporting as one way to assess the effectiveness of the training. "Employees should be trained to recognise loads whose weight, in conjunction with their shape and other features, and the circumstances in which they are handled, might cause injury. Simple methods for estimating weight on the basis of volume may be taught. Where volume is less important than the density of the contents, as for example in the case of a dustbin containing rubbish, an alternative technique for assessing the safety of handling should be taught, such as rocking the load from side to side before attempting to lift it. "In general, unfamiliar loads should be treated with caution. For example, it should not be assumed that apparently empty drums or other closed containers are actually empty. They should be tested first, for example by trying to raise one end. Employees should be taught to apply force gradually until either too much strain is felt, in which case the task should be reconsidered, or it is apparent that the task is within the handler's capability. "When workers are given appropriate training, it is important to ensure that supervisors and other more senior staff are also aware of the good practices that have been recommended, and that they regularly encourage the workforce to adopt appropriate techniques and ensure they continue to be used." References 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 A free leaflet is also available Getting to grips with manual handling: A short guide for employers INDG143(rev2). Both publications are available from HSE Books.