Construction manual handling: Kerbs and paving
Kerbs and paving material are common construction products. Regularly lifting, carrying or handling them can present significant risks of developing musculoskeletal problems. This page tells you how to control this risk and why. You also need to be aware of the general information on manual handling.
What you must do
Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to the following things:
Identify and assess: Laying kerbs and paving slabs is a highly repetitive task involving heavy loads. Individual concrete kerbs can weigh more than 70Kg. Natural stone paving can also be very heavy. Workers manually laying these items are particularly at risk. Follow the control steps below
Follow the general precautions for controlling lifting and carrying risks. In addition, you should also consider the issues below.
Prevent: Think about limiting the risks before work starts by:
- avoiding the need for heavy products altogether (eg slip formed kerbs, lightweight material kerb units or smaller block paving). Use the lightest product that fulfils the design criteria.
- using fully mechanised positioning and laying systems where heavy products cannot be avoided (eg vacuum devices or mechanical grabs). This is the preferred solution for new build, refurbishment and work involving heavy kerbs / slabs. Consider:
- phasing the work to maximise the efficiency of lifting devices
- laying direct from the pack rather than 'double handling' or stringing out ahead of final laying
- specifying materials that are compatible with lifting devices
Control: Even if you minimise some of the risk this way, you may still do other work that cannot be fully mechanised. Control the risk by following the information below.
- Partial mechanisation – ensure you use mechanical solutions for as much of the kerb or paving handling as possible (eg to get kerbs near their final position or when off-loading). A wide variety of vacuum and mechanical lifting solutions is available. These range from vehicle-mounted units to single person operated wheeled vacuum equipment.
- Manual handling – in rare cases, where it is not possible to use any of the above solutions, you may lay very short sections of kerbs or flags manually. Training in good handling techniques is needed for these situations. Using handling aids to avoid bending and stooping and that allow two people to share the lift will reduce risk of injury. Using lighter-weight units will also reduce the risk of injury.
Maintain: Ensure that handling aids are regularly checked to keep them in good working order. Appropriate lifting equipment needs to be thoroughly examined.
Supervise: Check site working practices to ensure that handling aids are being used correctly and procedures are being followed. Keep transport routes free of obstructions so that plant and positioning equipment can be used effectively.
What you should know
MSD injuries from handling heavy concrete and stone products do not usually occur because of a 'one-off' lift. The injuries usually arise from ongoing repetition of the work and posture during the lifting. These factors can create excessive stresses and strains on the body, which can cause damage to muscles and tendons – particularly to the back. This risk of serious longer-term problems makes it very important to adopt the correct control strategies.