Manual handling in the retail industry

Back pain and musculoskeletal disorders

On this page you will find advice to reduce the risk of you or your employees suffering from a musculoskeletal disorder or back injury

What you must do

Employers have a legal duty to manage the risk of musculoskeletal disorders which their workers are exposed to. Before anyone can start to control the risks in the workplace they need to know what they are, how serious they are and who is exposed to them. The first step to managing the risk is through risk assessment. This should be carried out to decide if there are enough precautions in place or if more needs to be done to prevent harm.

An assessment of the risk of musculoskeletal problems should take account of:

  • All tasks involved .
  • The individual capacity of the employee.
  • The loads involved.
  • The work environment.

This assessment should also consider the main risk factors such as manual handing, awkward postures, work organisation and vibration from equipment.

Manual handling activities should be avoided if it is reasonably practicable. If not reasonably practicable employers should assess the risk from the activity and implement effective control measures.

In practice, employers have found that initiatives for reducing musculoskeletal problems in the workplace are most successful if they involve employees and their representatives working together on risk assessment and investigating accidents.

Key messages

  • you can easily take action to prevent or minimise this type of injury;
  • the preventive measures are cost effective;
  • involving staff is key to success;
  • training staff in proper lifting techniques, use of handling aids and   raising awareness of the risks will reduce the likelihood of injuries in the future;
  • early detection and reporting of aches and pains is crucial.

Find out more


Safe Transport of Roll Cages RR862

See also

Cleaning industry website

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Updated 2024-02-09