On-demand Webinar

Manual handling? Don’t do it until you have risk assessed!

In this webinar, now available to watch on-demand, SHE Advisor at Greggs, Cindy Bell, Head of Health and Safety, Europe at Laing O’Rourke, George Mosey, Head of Product Development at NEBOSH, Matt Powell-Howard, and Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE, Matt Birtles, discuss their tops tips for undertaking a risk assessment for one of the leading causes of musculoskeletal disorders, manual handling.  

When it comes to manual handling, many organisations go straight to training – focussing on how to lift, for example. A thorough risk assessment can often help to identify and remove manual handling risk or, when an activity is required, select the best training and support to protect your workers.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the size of the issue:

  • 9 million working days lost due to MSDs in 2019/20.
  • 480,000 cases of workers suffering from work-related ill health are due to MSDs.
  • £2billion estimated annual cost of work-related MSDs within Great Britain.
  • In the EU, of 40,000 people surveyed, 43% reported backache, 41% reported muscular pain.

Industries that require a high level of physical exertion tend to record the highest average rates of musculoskeletal disorders. These industries include agriculture, forestry, construction, human health and social work activities.

The professionals highlight that, thought to a lesser extent, risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders developing is also present in less strenuous roles, for example working in awkward or tiring positions and conducting repetitive work.

Common injuries include:

  • Muscle strain
  • Acute strains and sprains
  • Torn ligaments
  • Postural strains and sprains
  • Joint stiffness
  • Disc strain
  • Herniated disc

Manual handling in the workplace – what can businesses do to manage the risk?

  • Identify and understand the risk concerned, commit to tackling them
  • Create the right organisational environment
  • Assess the risk of manual handling in the workplace
  • Reduce the risk
  • Educate and train workers
  • Proactively manage any episodes of MSDs
  • Make regular checks on the effectiveness of controls

Risk assessments – How to get started

SHE Advisor at Greggs, Cindy Bell, offers her advice to viewers on how to appropriately go about approaching a manual handling risk assessment. She says: “You need to start by spending time with people on the shop floor, talk to them, ask them what tasks they carry out on a daily basis. Then create a task register, identify tasks that carry significant risk, then you can target what type of control measures you need to put in place”

Head of Health and Safety, Europe at Laing O’Rourke, George Mosey, adds: “It’s all about collaboration, try and turn it into a pleasant experience, get people interested in the topic, highlight that the chronic impacts of not assessing the risks related to certain tasks can be debilitating.”

Fear of automation?

The professionals also discussed why workers might be less likely to report a task they know is of high-risk – one reason being a fear of automation.

George highlights the prevalence of this within the construction industry: “People are nervous about their roles being replaced by machines, but it’s not about replacing them, it’s about utilising technology to make their job easier. If you give someone the option to use a sophisticated tool that can make their job quicker and easier, they’re going to use it.”

Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE, Matt Birtles, adds: “Some of the kit that’s now available is fantastic, new tools are coming on the market all the time, providing excellent solutions. Businesses should take the time to go and have a look at what’s on the market so they can make informed decisions on what equipment they choose to use.”

What if employees refuse to follow guidance?

A huge barrier that many businesses face in effectively implementing guidance is because of un-cooperative employees. George states: “Sometimes we need to protect people from themselves. Use positive reinforcement and keep communication open. There is no clear-cut answer, it is an employer’s obligation to remove the opportunity for people to hurt themselves, increase education and keep the conversation positive.”


When it comes to implementing risk assessment findings in the workplace, it is crucial that training is done right. Cindy comments: “At Greggs, we make our training videos relevant to the task, one technique won’t fit all scenarios.

“We also have ‘manual handling champions’ who help move training away from the classroom. Their role is to be on hand to show people who may be unsure exactly what it is they need to be doing, demonstrating the right way of carrying on tasks.”

Want to find out more from our experts on how to carry out an effective manual handling risk assessment? Watch the rest of the webinar, and others in the series, on-demand by filling out the form opposite…

When you attend this on-demand webinar you will:

  • Gain an overview of the issues and impact of manual handling
  • Take away tips to help you get started on a manual handling risk assessment:
    • Worker consultation
    • Task as imagined v done
    • Circumstances for use of the MAC and RAPP tools
  • Learn about free Health & Safety Executive tools which can help you
  • Hear real-life solutions to manual handling challenges
  • Get an insight into a new NEBOSH and HSE qualification

Listen: Approaches to managing the risks associated with MSDs

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Matt Birtles

Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant, HSE

Matt Powell-Howard

Matt Powell-Howard, Head of Product Development, NEBOSH

Cindy Bell

Cindy Bell, Safety, Health and Env. Advisor, Greggs

George Mosey

George Mosey, Head of Health and Safety, Europe, Laing O’Rourke

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Speaker Bios

Matt Birtles

Matt Birtles
Principal Ergonomics Consultant, HSE

Matt Birtles is an experienced Principal Ergonomist from the UK’s Health and Safety Executive who has focussed on the development and application of workplace MSD risk assessments and risk reductions for HSE for 20 years. As part of this, he has developed and delivers training courses on workplace MSD risk management, leads HSE’s ergonomics consultancy services, supports HSE Policy on MSDs and has provided ergonomics guidance in most industrial sectors in the UK and internationally.

Matt Powell-Howard

Matt Powell-Howard
Head of Product Development, NEBOSH

Matt Powell-Howard graduated in Safety and Environmental Management from the University of Hull and holds a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of York. He worked initially in the chemical process industry in the UK for a number of top tier COMAH sites before moving on to SHE roles in consultancy, manufacturing, construction, quarrying and the hydrocarbon industries.

Matt joined NEBOSH in 2006 and has held various roles since. Matt is currently the NEBOSH Head of Product Develpoment with responsibility for the development of NEBOSH products and qualifications.

He has 20 years’ experience in Health, Safety and Environmental Management and is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner.

Cindy Bell

Cindy Bell
Safety, Health and Env. Advisor

Cindy Bell is the Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Advisor for Greggs PLC. Based in the North region, Cindy provides SHE advice and support for the Manufacturing and Logistics teams at Balliol Park – the centre of excellence for sausage rolls and pasties, and Gosforth Bakery – one of UK’s largest doughnut plants.

Since joining the Greggs’ family in November 2019 Cindy has been actively involved in various projects; the highlight being Balliol National Distribution Centre (BNDC) – one of the few hypoxic high-bay warehouse facilities in the UK. The facility showcases a fully automated system with a capacity to store 15,000 pallets of Greggs’ products whilst operating on a reduced oxygen atmosphere as the primary fire prevention measure.

In 2021, Cindy was named SHP’s Rising Star in Manufacturing and Rising Star UK.

George Mosey

George Mosey
Head of Health and Safety, Europe
Laing O’Rourke

George Mosey is Laing O’Rourke’s Head of Health, Safety and Environment in the Europe Hub, with a focus on developing and delivering the business’ health and safety strategy, as well as leading various health campaigns.

The role also includes working closely with the environmental sustainability team to ensure that Laing O’Rourke acts responsibly and delivers on their statutory obligations as well as supporting the business’ ambitious environmental targets.

An RICS accredited professional, George has 13 years of industry experience with knowledge built across a range of sectors including retail, education, health, commercial, rail, water and residential. He has a breadth of project delivery experience, working on iconic projects such as The Francis Crick Institute, The Leadenhall Building and Crossrail’s Custom House.

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Okwanga Joseph
Okwanga Joseph
2 years ago

We look forward to the day to hear from the experts and we implement were we are short.

Last edited 2 years ago by Okwanga Joseph
Alex Sutherland
Alex Sutherland
2 years ago

Is the presentation on zoom or teams? Our business will only support Teams at the moment.

Ian Hart
Ian Hart
2 years ago

It’s on a web-browser based platform, so should be fine.

sana deshmukh
sana deshmukh
1 year ago

will I receive any certificate of attendance as it is one of the requirements of our institution.

Ian Hart
Ian Hart
1 year ago
Reply to  sana deshmukh

Hi Sana, yes – you can download your certificate from the platform, once you have watched the full recording.