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Continuing to reduce handling injuries

The latest annual figures from the HSE show that industrial injuries related to manual handling remain the biggest cause of time off work in the UK. Not only were handling injuries the most commonly reported during the year ending April 2012 but handling was also the most frequent cause of over-3-day and the fourth most reported reason for major injury. In total around 1.2 million working days were lost because of handling, lifting or carrying. A further 800,000 or so working days were lost following slips and trips in the workplace.

The HSE has changed its reporting procedures for RIDDOR and LFS this year to include injuries that led to less than four, between four and seven and over 7 days off work. Previous years have focused more on under- and over-three-day injuries. Nevertheless it is clear from the published data that the total reported non-fatal injuries fell from just under one million in 2003/4 to around 600,000 in 2011/12. This is good news in general although individual accidents and injuries still cause considerable distress and hardship to those affected. According to the HSE around 591,000 workers had an accident during 2011/12 and almost two thirds of these led to more than three days off work. Around 40 per cent of injuries affect backs while a further 40 per cent affect upper limbs.

The ongoing reduction in reported accidents and injuries is welcome and there is a tremendous opportunity across industry to continue this trend. Better awareness, more training and simpler procedures can all play a part but further measures may be required.

Looking further into the statistics shows that the highest injury rates are found in agriculture, construction and the postal and delivery sectors. In other words, the industries where one would expect handling, lifting and carrying to be an everyday part of the job. Many of the those employed in these sectors work in small businesses where the impact of time off work can be doubly difficult to cope with from an employer’s perspective because there are fewer people with suitable skills and expertise to provide cover. But these are also the industries where simple but effective mechanical lifting equipment can be introduced to eliminate the need for manual handling and therefore reduce the risk of injuries and time off work.

Vehicle mounted cranes and platform lifts and goods lifts for warehouses and factories from Penny Hydraulics are designed and manufactured to support simpler and safer work. These are ideal for a variety of loads and enable businesses to comply with the current manual handling regulations which stipulate that no items weighing over 25kg should be lifted by a person on their own. In fact, when lifting or handling is regular or frequent the recommended limits are even lower.

Businesses who understand their duty of care obligations and who want to ensure compliance often deploy two or more employees to handle items heavier than the recommend limits so that each person’s "share" of the lift is below 25kg. This is seldom a good use of resources and can be extremely unproductive. By installing a load handling device on their commercial vehicles or a goods lift in their premises, employers can meet their duty of care obligations and provide employees with a simple and effective way to handle all sorts of loads efficiently and economically without any need for manual lifting or carrying.

In addition to reducing the risk of industrial injuries and enabling compliance with regulations this type of equipment allows a single person to work on their own. This provides an instant improvement to productivity, efficiency and resource flexibility. Moreover, with no need to lift and carry items, employees will be less fatigued during the day which means they can remain alert and productive for longer.

All Penny Hydraulics products are designed and manufactured in the UK for robust and reliable performance. The company offers comprehensive support including consultation, design, manufacture, installation, training and maintenance from its head office and through a nationwide network of service engineers.

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