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Did you know? - Safe Manual Handling Edition

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Jelly

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This thread was brought to you by the letter Ж, the number φ, and "Jelly's profound sense of irritation at seeing a common and potentially dangerous misconception parroted, AGAIN in a press release by a major retailer".

According to the HSE, there is no "Maximum safe lift".

Seriously.


I'm aware that there's a bunch of hobbyists to whom this is somewhat irrelevant, and a group of professional woodworkers who will find this to be "teaching granny to suck eggs"...

But I also figure there's likely to be a number of posters who would find it useful to know more about this, because they run a small business, or are employed with some kind of supervisory element to their jobs, and might from time to time be expected to conduct risk assessments; but haven't ever had this explained, or worse have had a blanket figure thrown at them by a lackadaisical H&S consultant or trainer who was just doing the bare minimum (not to impune all H&S consultants, some are entirely practical helpful people, but definitely not all).



So, the "25Kg maximum" is a corruption of information provided in the below diagram, which was developed using data gathered on average members of the population, and intended to show which lifting operations are considered to be "low risk" and would not require a task-based risk assessment for manual handling.

INDG143 - Low Risk Lifting Filter.png


In the rubric that HSE gives (in guidance document INDG143), before showing that diagram they state:

"Use the guideline filters for lifting and lowering in Figure 1 to help you identify low-risk tasks. The Manual Handling Regulations do not set specific weight limits, so the guidelines are not ‘safe limits’ for lifting and carrying. They use broad assumptions or generalisations where, if met, the risk of injury is considered to be low.​
...​
Where the handling task falls within the filter guidelines, you do not normally need to do any other form of risk assessment unless you have individual workers who may be at significant risk. If you are unsure, complete a more detailed assessment. "
Afterwards they state that, the guideline does not apply if:
  • The load is not easy to take a secure grip on,
  • The floor is not level,
  • The lift would involve bending or twisting,
  • More than one person is lifting together
  • More than one lift per two minutes is undertaken
  • The load must be carried more than 10M
  • The load must be carried without being held securely against the torso.

The practical upshot of all that is:
  • Just because something weighs 25kg or less, doesn't mean it's automatically ok to lift.
    • If you look at a job and think "Ach! My back won't like me for that"; you're almost certainly going to be right, and you absolutely won't feel smug about it.
    • If you're about to do something for the first time, and aren't certain it will be ok, it's worth taking a moment to think things through; which is a great reason to have a 5 minute tea-break.
  • Just because something weighs more than 25kg doesn't mean it can't be lifted by a single person, as long as the task has been thought through and there's a good justification why that is:
    1. Necessary
    2. Properly Controlled
    3. Unlikely to result in injury
  • If more than one person is needed for a lift:
    • It's worth taking a moment to come up with a plan ("dynamic risk assessment") before just cracking on (again, have a cuppa!),
    • If that has to be done frequently or repetitively, you should really write that plan down, so that if you're ever asked for the RAMS for it, you're already 90% of the way there.
 

Stevem

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This thread was brought to you by the letter Ж, the number φ, and "Jelly's profound sense of irritation at seeing a common and potentially dangerous misconception parroted, AGAIN in a press release by a major retailer".

According to the HSE, there is no "Maximum safe lift".

Seriously.


I'm aware that there's a bunch of hobbyists to whom this is somewhat irrelevant, and a group of professional woodworkers who will find this to be "teaching granny to suck eggs"...

But I also figure there's likely to be a number of posters who would find it useful to know more about this, because they run a small business, or are employed with some kind of supervisory element to their jobs, and might from time to time be expected to conduct risk assessments; but haven't ever had this explained, or worse have had a blanket figure thrown at them by a lackadaisical H&S consultant or trainer who was just doing the bare minimum (not to impune all H&S consultants, some are entirely practical helpful people, but definitely not all).



So, the "25Kg maximum" is a corruption of information provided in the below diagram, which was developed using data gathered on average members of the population, and intended to show which lifting operations are considered to be "low risk" and would not require a task-based risk assessment for manual handling.

View attachment 101483

In the rubric that HSE gives (in guidance document INDG143), before showing that diagram they state:

"Use the guideline filters for lifting and lowering in Figure 1 to help you identify low-risk tasks. The Manual Handling Regulations do not set specific weight limits, so the guidelines are not ‘safe limits’ for lifting and carrying. They use broad assumptions or generalisations where, if met, the risk of injury is considered to be low.​
...​
Where the handling task falls within the filter guidelines, you do not normally need to do any other form of risk assessment unless you have individual workers who may be at significant risk. If you are unsure, complete a more detailed assessment. "
Afterwards they state that, the guideline does not apply if:
  • The load is not easy to take a secure grip on,
  • The floor is not level,
  • The lift would involve bending or twisting,
  • More than one person is lifting together
  • More than one lift per two minutes is undertaken
  • The load must be carried more than 10M
  • The load must be carried without being held securely against the torso.

The practical upshot of all that is:
  • Just because something weighs 25kg or less, doesn't mean it's automatically ok to lift.
    • If you look at a job and think "Ach! My back won't like me for that"; you're almost certainly going to be right, and you absolutely won't feel smug about it.
    • If you're about to do something for the first time, and aren't certain it will be ok, it's worth taking a moment to think things through; which is a great reason to have a 5 minute tea-break.
  • Just because something weighs more than 25kg doesn't mean it can't be lifted by a single person, as long as the task has been thought through and there's a good justification why that is:
    1. Necessary
    2. Properly Controlled
    3. Unlikely to result in injury
  • If more than one person is needed for a lift:
    • It's worth taking a moment to come up with a plan ("dynamic risk assessment") before just cracking on (again, have a cuppa!),
    • If that has to be done frequently or repetitively, you should really write that plan down, so that if you're ever asked for the RAMS for it, you're already 90% of the way there.
Ideal world 😇. P Poor practices still go on here in UK.. not as bad as those I've seen in India tho' - dear Lord. We'd still be doing it here if it wasn't for our forefathers Unions. Yes, they did have a place once...
 

Jelly

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Location
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Ideal world 😇. P Poor practices still go on here in UK..
I have witnessed with my own eyes, and had to discipline people for continually failing to follow good practice...

It becomes like an intervention, "I'm doing this for your own good, because you'll regret it when you put your back out if you keep going like that".

Anyway, as long as there are people and heavy objects this will continue to be a problem, but the more people who know to "Think before you lift" the better things will be.
 
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