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The main legislation that governs for the Health and Safety of people in the work place in Ireland is:
- Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (as amended).[i]
- General Application Regulations 2007 (as amended), as implemented under the 2005 Act. [ii]
The 2005 Act applies to all employers, employees and self-employed people in their work environments.
Duties of the Employer and Employee
The above Act describes the duties of the employer and employee, Section 8 of the above Act states that employers have a duty to guarantee employees’ safety, health and welfare at work to a level that is reasonably practicable.
The employer’s duties include, among other things, to:
- create a safe work environment with safe equipment and plant.
- create safe work systems, including safe access and egress.
- prevent risks from exposure to a substance or to physical agents and noise.
- avoid any improper conduct/behaviour which is a risk to other employees.
- offer information, instruction & training to employees.
- provide PPE to employees.
- appoint a Safety Officer.
- report accidents and dangerous incidences.
The employee’s duties include among other things, to:
- take reasonable care of their health and safety and of other people while in the work environment.
- not to be involved in any inappropriate behaviour that will case a risk to themselves or other people.
- undertake any required assessment, medical or other if requested by the employer
- report any defects which could endanger others.
- not to be under the influence of drink or drugs in the workplace.
- wear PPE.
Health and Safety Authority (HSA).
The Health and Safety Authority is the national statutory regulatory body for the 2005 Act and are responsible for regulating health and safety in the workplace.
General Application Regulations 2007 (as Amended) [iii]
Practically all of the laws that apply to employment, that are specific to health and safety are found in the General Application Regulations 2007, which hold the legal requirements on fifteen areas of health and safety, the manual handling of loads is contained in Chapter 4 of Part 2.
The 2007 Regulations further defines the role of the employer under Regulation 69, Duties of the employer, these outline that the employer will: –
- organise the work to allow the use of mechanical or other means to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by employees in the workplace.
- When the manual handling of loads is unavoidable, steps must be taken, either by organisational or other means, to reduce the risk involved.
- organise workstations in a way as to make any handling as safe and healthy as possible (Ergonomics)
- ensure that sensitive risk groups of employees are protected against any dangers in relation to the manual handling of loads and the risk factors involved i.e. a pregnant worker.
Regulation 68 of the General Application Regulations 2007 describes the Manual handling of loads as:-
“any transporting or supporting of a load by one or more employees and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which, by reason of its characteristics or of unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injuries to employees.”
Regulations implemented under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, requires that a risk assessment be carried out on all work tasks which involve manual handling activity.
A risk assessment is a systematic and critical examination of a work place for the purpose of identifying hazards, assessing the risk associated with these hazards and deciding on appropriate control measures, which should include both engineering and organisational, reduced to the lowest possible and acceptable level to avoid or reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury. The assessment should be produced in a written statement which will safeguard: –
- The health and safety of employees while in the work environment
- The health and safety of other people who might be in the work environment, i.e. customers.
Regulation 69, Schedule 3 of the Manual Handling of Loads Regulations outlines the following risk factors to be assessed as part of a manual handling risk assessment: –[iv]
(Task) Requirement of the Activity what are the risks involved in the task, over-frequent or over prolonged effort.
(Individual) Physical effort required is the individual capable of carrying out the task, will it result in injury.
(Load) Characteristics of the load is it too heavy, too large, will it case a change in the centre of gravity.
(Environment) Characteristics of the Working Environment is the area safe to carry out the task.
These control measures are known as ‘the hierarchy of controls’: –
- Elimination (preventing users from coming in contact with the Hazard)
- Substitution (changing the hazard for a safer one)
- Housekeeping (a neat and tidy work place)
- Isolation (isolate the hazard down to the least number of users coming in contact with it)
- Environmental control (proper lighting and heating)
- Ventilation (proper ventilation of the user’s space)
- Safety Awareness (the locating of safety signs, notices posters etc.)
- Training and supervision (the proper training and supervision for the user)
- Personal Protective Equipment. (regarded as the last resort when the above is not practically possible)
As the health and safety officer within in our service, and following a number of manual handling injures in the service over the last twelve months, one of which was reportable to the HSA under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2016,
“all employers and self-employed persons are legally obliged to report the injury of an employee as a result of an accident while at work. Injuries must be reported if your employee is unable to carry out their normal work for more than three consecutive days, excluding the day of the accident.”
and resulted in a visit by an Officer from the HSA, who has instructed us to submit an updated risk assessment within 30 days.
Aims and Objectives
The Aim and Objective is to identify Manual Handling hazards that have led to the increased number of manual handling injures in our service in the year ending December 2018. In doing so I will evaluate the risks associated with these hazards by carrying out a risk assessment on these hazards which will determine the risk ratings and what measures should be taken to protect the health and safety of the employees and users of the building, with regard to the legal requirements under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
Our service provides residential and day services for adults with severe/profound intellectual disabilities, associated medical conditions and challenging behaviours.
The service has residential centres across the County and a day care facility which the residential services users can attend supported by their staff. The day care centre accommodates a variety of activities for the service users including treatments, therapy, therapeutic and social activities. The building also serves as the main administrative offices for the service.
Identification of the Manual Handling Tasks
– Use of hoists and glide rail hoists
Transferring service users from wheel chairs to therapy chairs and ball pits is part of the daily activity for the staff. During the review it has been discovered that the motor in one of the guiderails in the main therapy room was not in proper working and staff members had been transferring service users manually from their wheelchairs, there was no record of the reporting of the issue to either myself or management. I carried out a risk assessment attached here in identifying control measures for implementation.
– Use of Trolleys and Carts
Transferring of stores that are delivered to the day centre for collection on a weekly basis, by staff from one residence. During the review it was discovered that there was a potential for injury to staff loading and unloading stores supplies from Day Centre to transport and from transport into home. A risk assessment was carried out and attached here in identifying control measures and actions for implementation and review.
[iv] Manual Handling Induction – Gill Education
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