A supermarket worker was recently awarded a sum of Euro 85,000.00 as a result of injuring her back when loading a trolley at work.

The task in question involved the worker fetching a number of boxes weighing between 13kg-15kg from a stock room and filling them into a trolley. The boxes were stacked in storage above shoulder height requiring the worker to pull the top boxes down and allowing them to fall to the floor before lifting them again back into the trolley. The prosecution noted that induction training had indeed been carried out but this only simply consisted of basic safety instruction and not site / area specific manual handling training. As noted by the judge on the day in court:

“Lifting a box of A4 paper did not remotely compare with the task at hand”

While there is nothing written in stone with regards to the weights than can and can not be lifted by either the male or female of the species, guidance is available for all those involved in manual handling risk assessments. The basics of the TILE approach can be very easily adopted as follows: (brief outline)

Risk Assess the Task:                                    All components / sub components

Risk Assess the Individual:                           Physical ability, Illness

Risk Assess the Load:                                   Size, Shape, Movement

Risk Assess the Environment:                      Space, Surfaces, Lighting

EHS-logo-glowPart of the risk assessment process is of course the involvement of those directly affected by the task in question. Ensuring you involve the real experts here will ensure your risk assessment is true to reality, all concerns and issues at ground level can be addressed and all real, credible and best possible control measures discussed and implemented. Be aware of the fact that as an employer manual handling training is indeed a legal requirement but so to is the follow up afterwards from a middle and senior management perspective.

* Health and Safety Review, Jan / Feb 2015, pg.17

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