Employers Liability – Manual Handling: Know Safety, No Injury…No Safety, Know Injury

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Manual handling is said to be one of the primary causes of injury in the workplace. According to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) almost 1/3 of accidents reported are in relation to manual handling. It is a major cause of Employers Liability insurance claims.

Ken Coonan, Liability Underwriter at QBE Insurance wrote a very interesting article on Manual Handling which outlines some of the key aspects of a risk management strategy which, when implemented successfully, could potentially reduce employers liability insurance claims. Here are some of the key points:

1. Risk Assessment

Manual handling should be avoided where possible. Alternatively employers are required to carry out a risk assessment with a view to reducing the risk to employees, preferably at design stage, taking into account the individual, task, load and environment. For example, a company which uses 40kg bags could consider using 20kg bags or alternatively bulk buying to encourage use of mechanical lifting equipment instead.

Employee engagement is essential to highlight potential hazards that management may not be aware of.

2. Training

Training programmes should be introduced based on findings in the risk assessment stage.

It is necessary to evaluate the controls that are feasible for each problem. Document why a specific control has been chosen over another control that has not been used.

It is preferable that training should be carried out in the work environment rather than a classroom.

It is vital that a record of employee attendance and tested competence is maintained as this will aid any defence to subsequent civil claims for damages in the event of an incident in the workplace.

3. Technology
Where face to face training is not possible the employer may turn to media such as training videos, DVD’s and e-learning to reach their audience however training should be bespoke wherever possible.

4. Engagement

Provide trainers, supervisors and front line managers with the knowledge, confidence and tools to enforce systems, challenge bad practice & monitor performance.
Develop a simple auditing / monitoring tool that helps to easily identify and correct poor technique.

Regular audits should be carried out to identify use of poor techniques. Employees that use incorrect technique should be retrained and/or disciplined for non-compliance with safety rules and training.

5. Re-enforce

Provide refresher training at regular intervals.

Reinforce key messages by way of campaigns, signs/posters & toolbox talks. The mission is to improve the culture such that employees know the rules as to what food practice is and feel empowered to challenge bad practice.

6. Investigate accidents properly

Contemporaneous evidence is crucial to understanding the circumstances, causes of accidents and in defence of civil claims.

Take a full statement from the injured party and all witnesses – describing in detail the mechanics of the operation and resulting injury.

Photographs should be taken and any other information (eg. weights/dimensions) related to the incident should be documented. Challenge inconsistencies in evidence.

7. Occupational Health & Rehabilitation Services

Employee fitness, health and capability should be considered when matching them to the tasks they are asked to perform – preferably via an occupational health provider for high risk activities.

Employers should review facilities to manage employees appropriately and safely when returning to work following an accident.

8. Monitor & Review

If a work practice is incorrect, change it before accidents happen. A successful risk management program will come from:

-Proactive focus on implementing controls established during risk assessment.

-Monitoring the delivery and effectiveness of training.

-Good supervision & audit processes

-Engagement with front line managers & employees

This article gives a general overview of some of the issues that arise in connection with manual handling & some strategies that can help to make up a comprehensive safety management system.

If you would like a quotation for employers liability insurance, please call us on 049-4332944, e-mail info@martininsurance.ie or complete our online enquiry form.

Disclaimer: The material contained is this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

James Martin
James Martin
James Martin has 16 years of experience as a general insurance broker. He is a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute and has completed a Diploma in Corporate Finance.

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