HSE urges firms to ditch “off-the-shelf” training

Simplistic and “off-the-shelf” training for manual handling is a “waste of time and money”, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Launching new online advice on musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), the HSE’s health and work portfolio manager Geoff Cox said research shows training involving bending your knees to lift a cardboard box is “just a waste of time and money” and does not make any difference.

The solution

“The overall aim is to avoid and reduce manual handling, and that’s where employers should start if their workforce faces manual handling risks,” said Mr Cox.

“Don’t start with training, start with re-organising and redesigning your working practices,” he added.

“If you do need staff training, and there are many residual risks where this is the case, then this needs to be customised and professionally delivered. Any such training should be based on observations of current working practices, and should be informed by the views and experience of the workforce.”

The new MSD guidance has been developed with input from various businesses, trade unions and professional bodies.

Comments from individuals at EEF and RoSPA

Commenting on the new advice, the head of health and safety policy at EEF, Terry Woolmer, added: “The new web-based advice won’t tell you how to resolve your MSD issues, but it will help you decide what types of approaches suit your business and where to get the help you need.”

While RoSPA health and safety consultant Roy McKee commented: “It allows the risk profile of the company to dictate the level of competence and extent of help necessary, rather than a person’s accreditation or qualifications.

“Where previously, SMEs might not know where to go for assistance in ergonomic interventions or workplace designs, hopefully the web guide will change this.”

To see the new advice see here.

Geoff Cox will be speaking at Safety & Health Expo on 19th June at ExCel London. Register for your free ticket to attend here.

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Categories: Common Workplace Hazards, Lifting And Handling, New Safety and Health


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There seems to be little recognition for employers already implementing a systems approach to management of MSDs. This is not ground breaking news but positive support for those fighting against employers using off the shelf and E-learning as the only methods of education. Programmes should encourage the systems approach and monitor practice but also educate individuals in 24 hour care. That along with early intervention when MSD is reported has several benefits.

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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.

March 22, 2018

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