ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Manual handling injuries account for a large proportion of accidents in the workplace. The process is not confined to lifting heavy objects but may involve any activity requiring lifting, pulling, pushing, carrying or moving any animate or inanimate object.102

Although weight load and correct lifting techniques are important, actions such as reaching, bending, twisting and correct posture are also relevant.

Manual handling legislation requires employers to identify, assess and control risks arising from manual handling tasks in the workplace.103 This means that all work practices, the environment and plant and machinery that involve manual handling are designed, implemented and maintained so as to be safe and without risk.

Assessments should take into account the following:

  • actions and movements involved in the task
  • design of the workplace and workstations
  • posture of persons involved in the task
  • duration and frequency of the task
  • location of loads and distances that they must be moved
  • weights and exertion required
  • shape of the load
  • environment
  • skill and experience of the staff
  • physical attributes of the staff
  • personal protective clothing worn by staff
  • any other factor which may have a bearing on manual handling

Control may involve redesigning the workplace or workstation, providing mechanical aids, lifting teams or different means of protection, changing unsafe work practices and/or training staff in appropriate safe handling techniques.


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