New guidance on safe manual handling in construction


ISSN: 0263-2772

Article publication date: 1 May 2000




(2000), "New guidance on safe manual handling in construction", Facilities, Vol. 18 No. 5/6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

New guidance on safe manual handling in construction

Keywords Health and safety, Construction industry

Every year a third of all accidents reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) involve manual handling and these may be the tip of the iceberg.

New guidance on safe manual handling to help reduce back injuries in the construction industry was launched today by HSE with the backing of the Construction Confederation and the GMB Union.

Kevin Myers, HSE's new Chief Inspector of Construction, said: "Workers are quite literally putting their backs out trying to help their employers. It's about time their employers put their backs into trying to help their workers.

"My challenge to the construction industry is to use this guidance to demonstrate your respect for your workers and reduce the appallingly high number suffering from back pain. Everyone in the industry should be working together to protect workers' backs for the future."

The launch was hosted by Mace at their Merrill Lynch regional headquarters project near St Paul's Cathedral. Ian Wylie, Deputy Chairman of Mace, said: "Today's launch of the new HSE guidance is a very important issue within the construction industry. Manual handling is the major source of injury to construction workers. We, and other like employers, fully recognise this aspect of loss within our own industry. We are determined to make a significant impact upon these losses which often result in long-term suffering or incapacity to the workforce - our industry's key asset."

Injuries are costly to employees and employers. Employees shoulder the cost of lost earnings, pain and sometimes long-term incapacity and lost jobs. Families too are often affected. Costs to employers may come from loss of output, disruption to schedules and sickness payments. In addition, costs may arise from employee absence from work and recruitment and training of replacement workers. Insurance premiums may also be adversely affected.

Improving manual handling operations can reduce these costs and provide several other benefits such as reduced fatigue, improved productivity and morale, less waste and smoother operations.

Suzannah Thursfield, of the Construction Confederation, said: "I wholeheartedly urge all parties involved in construction related activities to support this important new guidance document and play their part in reducing manual handling injuries in construction."

The new guidance - Backs for the Future - sets out basic principles for dealing with manual handling risks and provides ideas for solutions to different handling problems. It explains how everyone - clients, designers, planning supervisors and contractors - has a part to play in reducing manual handling risks through better planning, control and management. It contains 27 case studies where real solutions were implemented on-site, showing effective ways in which manual handling risks can be reduced in practice.

Nigel Bryson, Head of Health and Environment for the GMB Union, said: "These practical examples show the Construction Industry that manual handling risks can be reduced. Far too many accidents occur which could have been prevented. There are no more excuses and we look forward to best practices being adopted across the Construction Sector."

Copies of Backs for the Future, ISBN 0-7176-1122-1, price £8.50, are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA. Tel: +44 (0) 1787 881165; Fax: +44 (0) 787 313995. HSE's InfoLine. Tel: +44 (0) 541 545500, or write to: HSE Information Centre, Broad Lane, Sheffield S3 7HQ, UK.

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