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Safe Handling and Lifting: An Employer’s Responsibility

It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of their staff in the workplace. Without having the proper procedures for lifting and handling heavy goods in place, your staff could be at risk of injury, resulting in lost working days for your business.

The United States Department of Labour’s Materials Handling and Storage literature explains the hazards and shows how employers can prevent injury, but many issues can be averted by following some simple guidelines:

The Hazards

The most common hazards posed to US workers include:

  • Lifting heavy or bulky items
  • Falling objects
  • Improperly stacked items
  • Using equipment incorrectly or without the correct training

Depending on the severity of the incident, these hazards can lead to serious injuries ranging from cuts and bruises to strains, fractures and – in some cases even death. As an employer or building manager, it’s your duty to ensure your staff are protected from these hazards.

Reduce the Need

Of course, if your staff aren’t picking up and moving heavy loads, there’s a minimal chance of injury through manual handling. Investing in specialized lifting and handling equipment is one way of doing so, as it allows staff to move the load without physical exertion.

Depending on the equipment required, this investment can be costly. However, when you weigh up the benefits, like improved staff welfare and reduced absences, it is a no-brainer. Remember, specialized equipment can be a hazard in itself if correct training is not given, so always ensure your staff know how to use the machinery properly.

Reduce the Risk

Because not every instance of manual handling can be avoided, employers should carry out a risk assessment to determine the level of danger and potential injuries that staff members face. Once the risks have been identified, you should ensure your staff are fully capable of safely carrying out the task.

Delivering training on the correct procedures to follow when lifting or moving items will give them the knowledge they need to stay safe in the workplace. Developing a manual handling policy will help ensure all staff are equipped with the right information.

Monitor the Changes

If an employee complains of an injury or health problem, you should make changes to the way they work with regards to manual handling. After implementing these changes, you should monitor the situation to ensure they have been positive. Creating a simple survey or regularly catching up with the staff member will help you find out whether their symptoms have improved and which particular task caused it. Not only will you improve your relationship with the staff member, you will be able to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

Tom Davison is Sales Team Leader at Slingsby. He can be reached at


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