How Serious Are Manual Handling Injuries In The Workplace?

Everyone knows someone with a bad back. Whether it’s a colleague who was showing off and trying to pick up more weight than they were capable of, or an elderly relative twisting the wrong way to pick a sock up off the floor, manual handling injuries can happen anywhere and to anyone – no matter how physically strong you are. Obviously, these injuries can have a massive impact on the individual’s health, often leading to long-term injuries and ailments, but it also impacts companies work rate and productivity. But how serious are these injuries to a workplace economy?

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders graphThe Effect of Manual Handling Injuries

In 2019/20, 480,000 workers suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders, with 152,000 being brand new cases. These injuries resulted in 8.9 million working days lost within the same timeframe. Breaking these figures down and taking a closer look at the construction industry more specifically, 61,000 non-fatal injuries occurred on average between 2017-2020 – 57% of these injuries were musculoskeletal disorders, with an average of 2% of all workers believing these were work related. In comparison to the average rate across all industries (which is 1.1%) this is significantly higher, being lower than only 1 other industry (Agriculture, forestry, and fishing) with a difference of only 0.01%.

Non fatal injuries graphWhen checking the statistics produced by RIDDOR for reportable injuries within the construction industry, we can see that 27% of all injuries that resulted in a 7-day absence were due to handling, lifting, or carrying, and 6% of all specified injuries. These equate to 19% of all days lost in total. In 2018/19 there was total monetary loss of £659M due to work related injuries in the construction industry. Given the values we have available to us it can be estimated that that roughly £125M was lost due to injuries caused by manual handling alone.

Manual Handling in Construction

Construction worker carrying a metal beam

The likely explanation for these figures is that the nature of the works undertaken within the construction industry requires more manual handling in comparison to other industries. Equipment and materials need to be moved and the purpose the materials are being used for often requires them to be durable and long lasting, often making them a sturdier material, which also often relates to them being heavier. Manual handling aids are often available, but sometimes, the simplest and most effective way to move these is to pick them up and carry them to where you need them.

Ride on forkliftHow Can Manual Handling Injuries Be Reduced?

So how can the number of injuries caused by manual handling be reduced? There are all sorts of manual handling aids which can be used to reduce or remove the stress from an individual when handling materials or equipment. Whether this be as simple as a wheeled trolley, or a ride on forklift truck, any measure that will reduce the exposure to the risks is worth considering. Another control measure could be to provide training to employees. As manual handling often surrounds almost everything we do, it can often be overlooked and ignored. WA Management can provide online training to inform your employees of what to be aware of when conducting manual handling and how to prevent injuries from occurring.

For more information about manual handling safety, visit the HSE website. We are also currently running an offer on our Manual Handling and Physical Activity courses for this month only! These courses can help keep learners safe in the workplace and improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing. Get 10% off these online training courses with the code ‘manualhandling10’ at checkout – take advantage before this offer runs out!