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2020 / 2021 Edition

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HSE report on manual-handling injuries

The HSE has published research identifying the main risk factors associated with injuries caused by manual-handling tasks which require workers to adopt complex postures. Typically these involve twisting and turning; awkward or static postures; pushing and pulling; lifting while kneeling; and restricted headroom or workspace.

While the HSE admits the study was small in scale, it adopted the relatively novel approach of analysing personal injury insurance claims, in which descriptions of jobs and accidents are often presented in more detail.

One of the main conclusions of the research, which was conducted on behalf of the HSE by an independent consultancy, confirms that previous injury to the lower back or the neck/shoulder area is one of the most significant factors in predicting susceptibility to repeat injuries. Other significant factors are (in order): the size/shape of the load; the provision of suitable training; the time spent in the job; floor conditions; restricted workspace; and the extent of the manual-handling operations as a proportion of the full job. Psychosocial issues, including management behaviour, also merit consideration.

In welcoming the study's findings, Sandra Caldwell, HSE's director of health, said: 'This research is based on actual work situations and its value lies in highlighting common factors in situations where workers have been injured. Taken alongside research findings from laboratory studies, it provides a valuable insight into how to avoid the risks of injury.'

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