A major cause of MSDs is poor manual handling. To help employers properly assess tasks, HSE has produced a series of tools. They are split by the type of task, but you should bear in mind that for some tasks you may have to consider using more than one tool.
The current suite of tools includes:
The Manual Handling Assessment Charts - MAC tool
This is used to assess the risks posed by lifting, lowering, carrying and team manual handling activities. It is designed to help you understand, interpret and categorise the level of risk of various known risk factors associated with manual handling activities.
The Variable Manual Handling Assessment Chart - V-MAC tool
This is used with the MAC tool to assess manual handling operations where the load weights are variable. You may not need to use the V-MAC as it is more complex than is needed for assessing many manual handling operations. It is best suited for order picking and distribution systems which can automatically generate the data for importing into the V-MAC.
The Assessment of Repetitive Tasks tool - ART tool
This is designed to help assess repetitive tasks involving the upper limbs. It assesses some of the common risk factors in repetitive work that contribute to the development of upper limb disorders.
The Risk Assessment of Pushing and Pulling tool – RAPP tool
This is designed to take you through the issues that you need to consider when pushing and pulling. Push-pull tasks can often be ignored because they are often seen as solutions for manual handling – put the load onto a trolley and push it – but there are still issues of distance, uneven surfaces, obstructions, slopes/stairs etc.
All of these tools incorporate a numerical and a colour-coding score system to highlight high-risk tasks.