Pharmaceuticals - Manual handling
This includes injuries from lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying and putting down an object and in pharmaceuticals is currently responsible for 66% of RIDDOR’S from the pharmaceutical industry.
Safe manual handling is not simply determined by the weight being handled. An “ergonomic” approach to assessing the safety of the handling operation is advocated, in which the contributory factors include:
- Load – eg shape / weight
- Individual capability – eg age & strength
- Task – eg duration and frequency
- Environment – eg confined spaces, steps
Ideally avoid all heavy and awkward manual handling. Providing manual handling training is essential, but will not eliminate potential risks alone.
There are additional ways in which to reduce the risk:
- Change the load
- Change the work area to make handling safer
- Provide manual handling aids to handle the load where applicable
The box is stored above shoulder height and requires the operator to overstretch to retrieve it, with the possibility of the box falling and injuring the worker, or the worker overstretching.
This operator must roll this heavy drum onto the weigh scales which are raised. This requires an overall awkward posture as well as being above the recommended lifting guidelines.
How can you change the load?
- Reduce the size of the load (split it, or see if it’s available in smaller quantities)
- Make it easier to grip - handles, hooks, straps
- Stabilise it - prevent sudden movements
- Cover any sharp edges, (so it’s easy to hold close to you and avoids injury)
How can you change the work area?
- Assess whether you can eliminate / reduce the handling requirement
- Improve lighting
- Change the height of surfaces so that loads are picked up and put down at more convenient heights
- Make the floor surface as even and uncluttered as possible. Avoid having to negotiate stairs
Invest in handling aids
- Appropriate handling aids such as scissor lifts, trolleys, sack trucks, vacuum lifts, weight sensitive loaders can all help to reduce the risk.
It is also important to encourage employees to:
- Wear the appropriate PPE but ensure that the PPE does not alter dexterity or movement
- Assess their ability to do the task
- Use good handling techniques