With 54,000 reportable cases of injury caused by manual handling at the last count take a look at some of the options to keep workers safe.
If business has a moral obligation to safeguard its workforce, the ramifications of not doing so should provide additional incentive. Using Google as a barometer for society a search on ‘UK manual handling accidents’ returns nine results in the top 10 from ‘no win no fee law firms’. These carry appropriately ‘inspirational’ business straplines ‘employee rescue’, ‘standing up for you’ and ‘we’re on your side’, amongst a multitude of others.
Putting any cynicism about the legal professions genuine concern for the welfare of its ‘common man’ to one side, the case for making sure that employees are properly trained and equipped to handle goods and materials is compelling.
According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive there were 54,000 reportable cases of injury caused by manual handling in 2014. Moreover, manual handling injuries accounted for nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all work place injuries reported.
And the glass processing and glazing sectors are no exception. The last study into major accidents in the glass and glass processing sector found that handling related injures accounted for 41 per cent of all injuries reported. This was three times greater than tripping, the next biggest cause of accidents, with flat glass handling accounting for 21 per cent of incidents.
“Back injuries are the obvious risk”, says Dave Broxton, Managing Director, Bohle, “But injuries to arms, legs and feet are also fairly common.
“As employers our first priority has to be to the welfare of our people. Health and safety is absolutely key and the changes that we have seen since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 and the cultural changes that have come with it are something that as a society, we should all be very proud of.
“But accidents do still happen many of which could be avoided. This isn’t good business sense when for a small investment in training and equipment could have meant that they would have been avoided.”
Employers’ liabilities are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act with specific responsibilities under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended 2002), which are designed to protect employees from injury caused by manual handling at work.
Broxton continues, “It’s important to recognise and understand the costs of incurring an injury claim. This goes far beyond legal fees and pay-outs to the disruption even minor injuries can cause to production and manning.
“For example according to the Office for National Statistics 909,000 working days were lost due to handling injuries in 2014, with an average of 6.6 days per injury. Even if you don’t face a legal claim, the cost of payment of sick leave, any additional manning costs and the impact on productivity, runs into the thousands for even a relatively minor incident.”
Guidance from the Health & Safety Executive, developed in consultation with the GGF, recommends the mechanisation as far as possible of the glass handling process. It also puts an onus on employers to carry out risk assessments to ensure that anyone manually handling glass (or other materials) is properly equipped with protective equipment and properly trained in the correct handling procedures.
This includes wearing protective aprons, eye, wrist and hand protection, the use of appropriate handling tools and introducing a safe system of work.
“The cost of protective equipment is miniscule compared to disruption and time lost to injury or any fine for being found legally liable for avoidable injury to staff,” says Broxton.
“But it’s also the right thing to do if you’re going to put people into potentially dangerous environments which working with glass unquestionably can be.”
As the leading supplier of consumable products to the glass processing sector, Bohle offers an extensive range of safety wear and handling equipment. This includes everything from protective eyewear, gloves and clothing to its range of suction lifters.
“There are lots of suction lifters on the market. The problem is what happens if the suction lifter fails – either at or below its claimed lift capacity – with the associated potential loss, damage and injury?”, says Broxton.
He argues that employers need to be confident that in the eyes of the law lifters are ‘fit for purpose’. “They need to be traceable, they’ll ned to evidence that the manufacturer will technically support the product, the lifter was supplied with instructions for use, the employee was trained and ideally the performance of the lifter was accredited by an independent third party.”
Veribor suction lifters from Bohle have been used worldwide for decades and the Veribor range has been continually refined to improve ergonomics, raise performance and maximise safety. This includes testing by TÜV and the subsequent accreditation, the TÜV GS mark. This is an independent guarantee of performance.
All Bohle suction lifters are designed, manufactured and tested in-house and sold with a minimum 2:1 safety margin to reflect the products’ use in the ‘real world’.
This includes Bohle’s introduction of lever-activated suction lifters with an integrated safety vacuum display, the Veribor blue line pump-activated suction lifter.
Designed to support the safe manual handling of glass, stoneware and metal, the 601.1BL has a parallel load capacity of up to 120kg and features a high visibility pressure gauge, which gives a clear indication of the strength of the vacuum and suitability for lifting.
“Safe manual handling is absolutely reliant on your grip or the fix to the product that’s being lifted. Suction lifters support far safer handing of flat surface objects by promoting a safe and secure grip.
“One of the real advantages of the Veribor blue line pump-activated suction lifter is that it includes a gauge, which gives the operative a clear indication of the strength of the vacuum, so there are no sudden losses of pressure which could lead to injury.
“This function is especially important when objects or materials with slightly porous or textured surfaces are transported, because here the vacuum diminishes more quickly than with airtight surfaces.”
Broxton concludes: “Safety is about people first and business second. The costs of getting it wrong are, however, high, which is why investment in training and equipment is so key.”
Call the customer services team free on 0800 616151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.