Reducing risk for the long term
18 January 2016
Should companies re-examine the quality of manual handling training provided to their employees if they want to see real practical and business benefits? Andy Cartwright, technical manager for Mentor, is urging firms to do just that.
Andy Cartwright, technical manager for Mentor, says that there are several fundamentals employers should look for when selecting a manual handling course: “To really get the most out of your budget, you need to make sure the training you provide isn’t just a box-ticking exercise and that it makes a real impact on those taking part," he asserts. "That way you’ll see long term improvements to safety and avoid the distress, damage and disruption associated with accidents of this kind.”
Cartwright cites recent HSE statistics to demonstrate the extent of problem: “In 2014/15 an estimated 9.5 million working days were lost due to work related musculoskeletal disorders. Factor in compensation claims, legal fees, replacement staff, overtime costs and it soon becomes clear how injuries like these can impact on a business’ bottom line.”
With manual handling firmly in the spotlight, it’s of vital importance, adds Cartwright, that courses are tailored to the needs of the delegates. He notes: "Companies need to provide staff who are most at risk with training that will actively contribute towards keeping them safe day-to day.
“It’s not sufficient to put all staff through a generic course, regardless of its relevance to their role. If delegates are at high risk of sustaining a manual handling injury, they need a comprehensive course designed to ensure they understand the potential pitfalls. That’s why we offer a range of training packages, from in-depth courses designed for those with really physical roles to induction/refresher courses for those who handle less frequently, to make sure everyone receives the guidance they need.”
And when evaluating risk, Mentor reminds employers to consider all types of manual handling as all have the potential for injury. As well as one-off traumatic injuries, the constant repetition of ‘light’ tasks can put staff at a high risk of cumulative injuries, developed over time.
Ensuring it’s relevant to your staff
It follows then that Mentor is encouraging businesses to move away from generic content in favour of relevant scenarios and demonstrations, to make sure delegates truly benefit from their training.
Cartwright continues: “In our experience, training is most effective and engaging when content is as tailored as possible to the delegates attending. It needs to be relevant and applicable to the industry and, more specifically, the job roles of those taking part. We’ve found that training scenarios that use companies’ own loads and working environments really help delegates to apply what they’ve learned once training is over.”
He adds that if it’s to have real impact it's just as important that training targets delegates’ attitudes and behaviour - such as discussing the potential consequences of manual handling injuries and including hard-hitting, interactive content designed to make delegates re-evaluate the way they carry out manual tasks in both their working and personal lives.
“It’s not enough to simply familiarise delegates with examples of good and bad practice," concludes Cartwright. "To ensure it’s engrained, all of our courses target the behaviour at the root of any bad practice. At the end of the day, cutting corners, complacency and ignorance of the dangers are no defence against sustaining a potentially life-altering injury; these need to be tackled now to maintain positive change for the long term.”