According to Joe Maguire, Technical Manager at Skuld Club, a manual handling task should never be conducted without referring to or carrying out a risk assessment. This means that a formal risk assessment of all manual handling tasks, both routine and one off, are performed by a person that is trained and able to do so, using the company's approved form and making sure that records are maintained according to procedures.
To ensure that a full assessment of the task and potential dangers involved is made, a methodology should be adopted and what is best known under the TILE acronym is suggested:
Think about the activity. Does it involve some of the following?
- Reaching up;
- Positioning the load;
- Sudden movement;
- Limited rest or recovery periods;
- Team handling;
- Seated handling.
Who will be performing the activity. Are they pregnant, suffering from health problems, being physically unable to conduct the task, wearing unsuitable clothes or other effects, not enough experienced, trained or equipped.
What is the object being moved. Is it heavy, bulky, unwieldy or difficult to hold, unstable or harmful; hot, cold, sharp, or dangerous if dropped.
The area in which the load is being moved. Does the space enable safe height and good posture to be maintained, is the surface slippery, uneven or unstable, is there variation in the level of the deck, is movement or posture obstructed by personal protective equipment or clothing and is there enough lighting?
Manual lifting should only be undertaken by personnel who have been trained to do so and if in doubt stop the work and seek further advise and evaluation. It is also to be reminded that pregnant personnel should never perform manual handling
The following illustration by the UK MCA Code of Safe Working Practices 2018 (COSWP) regards safe weights for manual lifting. These weights are not fixed and vary with the capability of the person doing the task. The safe limits will be reduced if the action to be performed includes twisting or to be repeated over a short time period.