Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Manual Handling: Who’s really at risk?


Do you know that over a third of all injuries reported to the Health and Safety Executive relate to manual handling?  It doesn’t surprise me as I deal with many forms of lifting injury on a day-to-day basis.  What at first surprised me though was the nature of the work that would tend to cause such injuries.  Outside of the profession you would probably think that most lifting injuries occur within the building and construction trades, after all, they’re the tough, heavy jobs aren’t they?  Whilst those jobs do carry great risk, they’re also the types of industries which have come under close scrutiny in the past regarding manual handling and so have done quite a lot to “get their act together” so to speak. 


The law regarding manual handling is very strict, which is exactly what it needs to be given the number of lost working days, state healthcare and benefits costs, legal costs and, not to mention, tremendous amounts of pain and suffering, it causes.  The “typical” lifting industries, on the whole, have taken heed of the law.  The result is that, a significant amount of the manual handling injuries I deal with come from perhaps unexpected sources: office workers, cleaners, factory line workers, healthcare professionals, secretarial and administrative staff etc.  The point is: when you’re not thinking about manual handling risks, that’s when you’re at the greatest risk.


Linked with this is the fact that many injuries don’t involve very heavy weights.  Again, when dealing with heavy weights people will often have manual handling in mind – the real danger area, in my opinion, is those weights which lie somewhere in the middle – say 20 – 30kg.  They’re heavy enough to damage a healthy back, let alone a vulnerable back (which most people don’t realise they have until after the accident), but people don’t tend to start thinking about risk assessments etc when dealing with such weights.  In fact, the most severely injured client I have acted for was lifting a 15kg item of machinery at the time.  It’s so often not just about the weight – it’s about the person, the task, the conditions, the repetitive nature etc. 


The law reflects the subtlety and breadth of these risks but, from what I see, employers still have a long way to go in order to “plug the gap” and comply with the law.

If you or a member of your family has been involved in an accident which has resulted in you sustaining injury and would like a free and confidential discussion with one of our specialised Solicitors, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 389 1978 or visit our website at You can also follow us on Twitter (@ForsterDeanLtd) and find Forster Dean Solicitors on Facebook

James Winterbottom, Solicitor, Forster Dean Rochdale.


11th September 2012

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