Manual Handling in the Workplace – A Guide for Employers

Manual Handling in the Workplace - A Guide for Employers

It is your legal obligation as an employer to provide a safe working environment for your employees. You need to put in place measures that can minimise their risk of getting injured while performing their tasks.

Injuries and illnesses can keep employees from going to work. They can lead to decreased productivity and consequently, lower revenues.

One of the most common work-related injuries results from manual handling or be it improper manual handling. The problems which can develop from bad lifting and carrying, for example, can include anything from minor aches to long-lasting musculoskeletal disorders such as pain in arms, legs and joints. 

Repetitive strain injuries are another major concern when handling heavy items on a regular basis and can lead to life-long mobility and comfort complications. These injuries can be some of the most debilitating as musculoskeletal disorders can affect every aspect of an individual’s work and personal life. 

Why Do Manual Handling Training? 

According to the HSA, a third of workplace injuries are due to manual handling activities. Furthermore, these injuries are noted to be the top cause of work disability. 

When it comes to manual handling injuries, the back is body part that is usually affected.  Meanwhile, musculoskeletal injury is the most common type of injury that is reported to the HSA.

Image by HSA

Manual handling injuries have extremely serious implications for both the employee and the employer themselves. 

For employers, it can result in a reduction in output due to employee injuries. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common types of occupational injuries that are associated with absenteeism.

Aside from a reduction in workforce productivity, employers also face the risk of legal action should the injured employee have insufficient training. 

Manual handling injuries can happen in any working environment but are most likely to develop in industrial areas like warehouses. They can also happen in places like offices, hotels, hospitals and retail settings.

In order to avoid the development of muscle pains and aches, it is important that all members of staff understand what they need to do in order to lift moderate to heavy objects effectively and without putting strain on sensitive areas of the body, such as the spine. This is why employers are required to provide manual handling training to employees whose duties include lifting objects.

What Happens If You Don’t Do Manual Handling Training?

Failure to give your employees the training they need to do their tasks safely has serious repercussions. This can include your employees filing a court case to get compensation for the injuries they received at the workplace.

Aside from being stressful, dealing with these court cases can be expensive as you have to spend your legal expenses and possibly pay your employees should they win the case. This is what happened in the Homan v Etmar Ltd case wherein the court found the latter to have breached its statutory duty to provide manual handling training to their delivery drivers. As a result, the company was ordered to pay the plaintiff a total of €380,000.

In the said case, the plaintiff suffered a back injury when he was blown off by a gust of wind as he was moving a mattress onto the tail lift of the van. This caused the plaintiff to develop chronic pain that has prevented him from working and resulted in loss of income for the past 7 years until the case was settled in 2018.

During the trial, Mr. Homan stated that getting manual handling training could have prevented the accident that has caused him to suffer from chronic pain. The company, on the other hand, did not deny that it did not provide manual training.

This specific case serves as a warning for employers not to be remiss in training their employees on how to properly and safely do manual handling tasks. 

It should also be noted that, as an employer, you have to ensure that your staff members get adequate training and fully understand the course as shown in the Justyna Meus v Dunnes Stores case

In this case, the court concurred with the plaintiff that the defendant failed to provide adequate training for her manual handling tasks. Moreover, the judge stated that the company did not check if the employee understood the content of the training that was allegedly given to her. 

Due to the defendant’s shortcomings, the plaintiff developed chronic back pain and was awarded €85,000 in damages.

In summary, providing manual handling training is not just about staying compliant with the law but also about ensuring the safety of your employees as they perform their duties. Armed with the knowledge on how to lift objects properly, your workers can minimise their risk of getting injured and perform their jobs better. 

Are you looking for a Manual Handling course in Ireland? Please call us now on 0851075135, email us at or fill out our contact form now.