At Speedy, we recognise that health and safety is not just about policies and procedures. Health and Safety is also about attitude, awareness and communication. As part of our approach to health, safety and wellbeing, we use Social Media and workplace events to raise awareness of key topics on a regular basis. This week, Speedy's Group HSSEQ Director Steve Giblin offers his own insight and wealth of experience into how manual handling safety awareness has changed over the years.

Manual handling, lifting and shifting, pushing and pulling and moving loads - These and many other phrases describe just some of the tasks employees do in the workplace which may result in an injury if not done correctly. Since 1992 when the infamous six pack was introduced we have come a long way. These were the six regulations which came into force with the Manual Handling regulations 1992 which were a part of that pack.

We are now using the 2015 version after two previous revisions and some amends around the original regulation. The automation of workplaces, mechanisation of tasks, numerous inventions and innovations to aid lifting or eradicate lifting, have at some point been adopted or worked with, but the vulnerability of the human body has not changed.

As individuals, we are still susceptible to injuries and muscular skeletal disorders (MSD’s) when incorrect posture or poor techniques are applied to moving, lifting or carrying loads. In fact, one could argue that we are still the same as we were in 1992. Indeed, I’ve been in Health and Safety for over 25 years now, and manual handling is always there in the top three causation factures in all industries across the UK, and has been ever since I started in the brewing industry all those years ago.

Back in those days I had several altercations with draymen who threw 18 and 36 gallon kegs down cellars and trap doors on high streets up and down the country, without any regard for their own health and safety or that of the public. After conversations and demonstrations, combined with some blended learning and lifting mechanisms fitted to HGVs, we started to see a positive change in attitude and techniques. More importantly, we started to see a reduction in poor health and back injuries.

However, even in 2017 we still see occasional back injuries in the industry. At Speedy, we train people, provide numerous lifting aids and we empower every single employee to not attempt lifting anything they feel may injure them or their colleagues. This sector provides a myriad of lifting solutions to some of the biggest names in industry and construction, but is this problem one that all industries should simply tolerate and mitigate as necessary? I don’t believe so.

My experience tells me that people who just take that extra two or three seconds to think about what they are doing tend to not get injured when moving or lifting. I call it ‘Intelligent Safety’ and it’s a mindset. For example, think about what you are lifting; think about where you are carrying the load to; think about the position of your feet and think about your posture.  

We undertake a dynamic personal risk assessment before carrying out tasks. It’s not rocket science, its self-preservation. It’s about looking after yourself, and about looking after colleagues and friends – it’s the ‘intelligent’ thing to do.  I urge you all to try it - you don’t need a consultant for behavioural safety, it’s in everyone’s DNA.”

For resources to keep mindful of safe practices when you’re engaging in manual handling, remember to check out our Intelligent Safety resources.
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