Manual Handling – Advice for the cleaning sector

Our experience is that most claims in the cleaning industry sector are Employers Liability Insurance claims relating to manual handling. This includes any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing carrying or moving) by hand or by bodily force.

Lifting and carrying is the second most common cause of injuries for employees and causes some of the most serious and long-lasting injuries such as back pain and work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs). Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, employers have a legal duty to eliminate, if possible, lifting and carrying tasks which can cause injury. Where this cannot be done they must do a detailed assessment and reduce the risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level.

The weight of the load is not the only factor they must consider. The size and shape of the object; the height it has to be lifted; the ease with which it can be carried; the amount of twisting and stretching involved; the stability of the load; the space available; the suitability of the person; and the frequency of lifting are all equally important.

  • Are there jobs, which involve dangerous or awkward lifting on the premises?
  • What causes the risk of injury – the size, shape or weight of the load; the area where lifting is done; the ability of the worker; the frequency of lifting, etc.?
  • If mechanical aids, trolleys etc., are provided to reduce the risk are they regularly maintained and suitable for the job?
  • Does your employer provide training relevant to the handling jobs involved?
  • Is racking and shelving where goods are stored secure and well maintained?
  • Are ladders, kick steps, etc., suitable for the job and well maintained?

Deliveries to the back of premises should be made as close to the cellar or storage point as practically possible. Limit lifting as much as possible, especially for expectant mothers or any young persons, using trolley’s or hoists if provided for heavy items.  In many premises, roll cages are used to deliver goods. Many accidents occur when handling these cages:

  • Are cages overloaded or badly packed when they reach the shop?
  • Are loading bays and passageways free from obstruction?
  • Are cages well maintained and replaced when damaged?
  • In particular are the wheels in good condition?

Monitoring must take place to ensure the effectiveness of these measures and reassessment must be carried out where and when necessary.

Employees must make full and proper use of any system of work intended to reduce the risks of injury from manual handling activities.

Manual Handling Assessment and Associated HSE Guidance

According to the guidance, assessments should

  • be suitable and sufficient
  • be carried out by a competent person
  • be kept up to date and revised where there has been a significant change or in the light of experience
  • include a record of the significant findings
  • take into account the tasks, the load, the working environment, individual capability and other factors

Good risk management will result in fewer claims and ultimately cheaper insurance premiums our clients in the cleaning industry. For more risk management or insurance advice, please contact Tony Gibbs on 0118 9165 480.

*Information correct as of 1st May 2016

Author: Tony Gibbs | February 16th, 2011

Contact the author

Tony Gibbs
Get in touch:   Reading: 0118 916 5480   London: 020 7036 8767   info@macbeths.co.uk