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Manual Handling Injuries: Causes & Prevention

Manual handling injury statistics indicated that during 2018 and 2019, approximately 650,208 workplace injuries were reported over the course of the year. Of this, 20% were attributed to activities where handling, lifting or carrying was involved, and 19% were due to slips, trips and falls. 

Manual handling injuries, first and foremost, have a clear impact on employees’ health and well-being. Furthermore, it affects an organisation’s productivity and profitability due to lost work hours and other factors. 

With such apparent disadvantages, organisations and employees need to be aware of the common causes of manual handling injuries and ways to prevent them. So, let’s dive right in, shall we? 

What Is Manual Handling?

According to the HSE, manual handling can be described as “transporting or supporting a load by hand or bodily force. It includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving loads.” A load could be a person, object or animal. 

The law specifies how employers should handle the risks associated with manual handling, which includes:

  • Avoiding dangerous manual handling where possible
  • Where hazardous manual handling is unavoidable, assess the risks associated with those operations
  • Reduce the risks associated with unsafe manual handling as much as possible

What Are The Most Common Manual Handling Injuries & Their Causes?

Manual handling activities can result in a range of injuries; however, many can be prevented through simple actions. 

Back Injuries

When lifting at work, your back is one of the most important areas of the body to protect as it’s one of the weakest areas of the body. This is why it’s important to practice your lifting technique and keep good posture. Stooping or twisting when picking up or holding a load are other actions that commonly lead to back injuries. 

Hand injuries

Manual handling will often require you to grip an object or load. Depending on the item you’re picking up, this action could result in severe injuries. 

For example, if the object is hot, you may burn yourself when picking it up. Alternatively, heavy objects could crush the bones of your hands if you do not place the load down in the correct manner. However, there’s also the possibility of cutting your hands if you’re not careful when picking up a load that has sharp edges. 

Slip, trip and fall injuries

In the working environment, spillages, uneven walking surfaces and raised areas are normal. When you’re carrying a heavy load in such an environment, your visibility is often restricted, which may prevent you from spotting any obstacles until it’s too late. 

Musculoskeletal disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders refer to any injuries, damages or disorders occurring in the joints or other bodily tissues in an individual’s upper limbs, lower limbs and/or back. These injuries generally occur after repetitive manual handling tasks, leading to damage, pain or stiffness in the body over time. 

Sprains and strains

Sprains and strains are often caused by overstretching the muscles – especially in the back, arms or wrists. This results in inflammation, bruising and general pain. 

Foot injuries

This may seem like an odd injury considering the fact that manual handling involves lifting and moving objects. However, foot injuries commonly occur when people drop heavy loads, especially when employees aren’t wearing protective footwear. 


Hernias occur when an internal organ or piece of fatty tissue breaks through a surrounding weak area of the muscle or tissue wall – the risks of occurrence increase as you age. This can easily be caused by overstraining the body when lifting heavy loads. Most of the time, Hernias can only be fixed through operations. 

Preventing Manual Handling Injuries

You can implement numerous controls and actions to prevent the risk of a manual handling injury occurring. 

First and foremost, it’s essential to conduct manual handling risk assessments in order to determine where potential hazards may be present as well as the weight load your staff can handle. 

Implementing ergonomic tools for employees where possible will also alleviate the manual labour associated with manual handling. Additionally, providing training for your employees can help educate them on how they can prevent injuries, too, such as with their posture and safe handling techniques. 

Employers can also introduce other administrative controls such as job rotation and counteractive stretch breaks. These will ensure employees do not strain their bodies, thereby reducing the risk of injuries from manual handling. 

Asbestos Exposure: Symptoms, Actions, Occupations & More

Asbestos Exposure: Symptoms, Actions, Occupations & More

While most people do not develop life-threatening lung disease from inhaling asbestos once or twice, long-term exposure can lead to some severe illnesses. With increased focus on safety and the wellbeing of all workers in the UK, there has been a drive for asbestos awareness in recent years, as asbestos still lurks in many buildings across the country.

However, even with awareness and education becoming more common, asbestos exposure is still a reality and should be carefully navigated. In this post, Safety Services Direct explores asbestos exposure, its symptoms, and the professions most at risk of coming into contact with asbestos.

How does asbestos exposure happen?

There are a few ways in which asbestos can enter your body. The primary route of entry is through inhalation of asbestos fibres in the air. You can also be dermally exposed, where fibres lodge in the skin. And lastly, asbestos can enter the body through ingestion.

Asbestos was used in thousands of products, from roofing panels to cement pipes and even car gaskets. Before it had been discovered that asbestos could cause severe illness, it was a commonly used material because it was cheap, strong, and had excellent heat and sound insulation properties. Unfortunately, the thin fibrous crystals, made up of microscopic fibrils, can be released into the air through abrasion and other means. It has therefore become a hazardous substance.

Note: If you want to know more, here are a few facts about asbestos.

Asbestos exposure symptoms

If you have experienced prolonged exposure to asbestos, you may have developed asbestosis or lung cancer. However, if you are reading this post because you are concerned that you or your team may have been exposed or might be in the future, look out for these warning signs of asbestos poisoning:

  • shortness of breath
  • Swollen fingertips
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Persistent dry cough

How to prevent exposure to asbestos

When preventing exposure to asbestos for yourself or your team, the first thing to do is ensure that everyone has been adequately trained in asbestos awareness. Safety Services Direct offers three approved online training courses to ensure your team’s safety. Our course options include:

If one individual in your team has not been adequately trained, they can expose everyone else by disturbing asbestos materials. It is, therefore, crucial that everyone receives adequate training.

What professions are most at risk for asbestos exposure?

Of course, an IT specialist working in an office may not need to take an asbestos awareness training course. There are certain professions that have the potential to be regularly exposed to this hazardous material, while others are relatively safe.

The professions most at risk of exposure to asbestos include:

  • Construction workers
  • Shipyard workers
  • Firefighters
  • Industrial and power plant workers
  • Factory workers

These manual labour related jobs generally have a much higher likelihood of working with asbestos than other professions. However, it is important to note that the current statistic of workers who have handled asbestos and developed a related disease is approximately 20%. With an increase in education and awareness, this percentage can be reduced drastically.

What Are CDM Regulations?

What Are CDM Regulations?

The construction industry is known for being relatively dangerous. Whether you’re working with heavy-duty equipment and hazardous substances, or a hammer and nails, there is an element of risk involved. When considering the human factor, this is even more volatile.

CDM regulations have been implemented to improve the construction industry’s health and safety. Unlike the 2007 version, these regulations apply to everyone in the construction industry, from small companies to large ones. Safety Services Direct explains everything you need to know about these directives.

What are CDM regulations?

CDM regulations are legal requirements that dictate the safe planning and implementation of construction projects. These requirements can help guide any role in construction. The regulations help you to: 

  • Cooperate and coordinate your work with others in your team
  • Know and understand the risks associated with construction and how they are managed on your site
  • Engage with workers and effectively communicate about the risks and how they are being managed
  • Plan projects with all the risks being managed from start to finish
  • Delegate roles and responsibilities effectively

Since these regulations are legally binding and enforceable by criminal law, it is crucial for everyone involved in a construction project to be aware of and follow them. 

The construction (design and management) regulations 2015 are divided into five parts. These are:

  • Part 1: Commencement, interpretation and application
  • Part 2: Client duties
  • Part 3: Health & Safety Duties and Roles
  • Part 4: General requirements for all construction sites
  • Part 5: General

Between these five sections, there are 39 regulations in total. These go through everything from designers’ duties to fire detection and fire fighting. Everything that could pose a security risk at some point, from planning to completion, is included in these regulations.

Tip: Browse through our CDM Compliance Kits to find the perfect option to prepare yourself or your team for these regulations. If you are a contractor, you may find our CHAS Accreditation Course even more beneficial.

What do ‘CDM regulations’ stand for?

CDM regulations stand for Construction (Design and Management) regulations 2015.

When did CDM regulations start?

The original regulations were introduced in 1994 in compliance with European Directive 92/57/EEC. It was then revised and replaced with a new set of regulations in 2007. The current version of the CDM regulations started in 2015. CDM 2015 replaced the previous CDM 2007 on 6 April 2015. The changes from the past version were substantial and included a meaningful change in what constitutes construction.

Under the current guidelines, everything from a home improvement project to large-scale construction falls under the CDM regulations’ umbrella and must be compliant. So the construction (design and management) regulations 2015 now govern the way construction projects of all types and sizes are planned in the UK. 

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