HSE launches online tool to help employers assess MSDs

An
online chart to help managers identify high-risk manual handling jobs has been
unveiled by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The
Manual Handling Assessment Chart (MAC) aims to provide up-to-date information
of health and safety relating to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

The
HSE estimates more than 1 million people a year suffer from an MSD caused or
made worse by work. In 2001/2, about 37 per cent of injuries that resulted in
absence of more than three days were due to manual handling.

The
chart is designed to help make assessments easier and more accurate,
particularly when it comes to looking at lifting, carrying and team handling.

Each
task is graded with risk factors, which the user works through online, and then
records a risk rating – green, amber, red or purple – on a score sheet. The
rating indicates which jobs are more likely to put workers’ health at a greater
risk.

The
site is aimed at employers, safety representatives, health professionals and
interested members of the public.

Malcolm
Darvill, HSE head of ergonomics policy, said: “You can test out your own
practical risk assessment ability by scoring some real manual handling tasks
and then comparing your scores with an ergonomics expert. The website also
offers users practical tips to reduce risks of MSD injury.”

The
site also contains case studies, the main guidance relating to MSD, links to
other sites, research on MSD, and can answer questions on issues such as risk
assessment, display screen equipment use and manual handling.

It
is backed by a number of large organisations, including BP, which was one of
the first to try it out, and Chesterfield Borough Council.

Graham
Reeves, occupational hygienist with BP, said: “The MAC allows you to ‘score’ an
assessment, which means you can rank individual assessments, decide which are
the greatest risks and take action on these first.”

Richard
Wheatcroft, senior environmental health officer at Chesterfield Borough
Council, added: “The exercise has really consolidated officers’ competence in
assessing manual handling activities.”

 www.hse.gov.uk/msd/mac

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