Supermarket home delivery staff top the league of the UK’s heavy lifters, carrying an average load of 4,000 kgs a day, according to a study by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE compared the daily routines of nurses, mothers, builders, farmers, teachers, office workers, baggage handlers and supermarket home delivery staff as part of its Better Backs campaign.
The average weight lifted was 2,303 kgs. Projected on a year-long basis, baggage handlers could be lifting up to 960,000 kgs – the equivalent of 369 black cabs – while teachers, who officially lifted the smallest weight, still carried up to 48,000 kgs a year – the equivalent of 20 black cabs.
“I think everyone would be surprised by how much they lift as part of their every day life, and employees are at serious risk of back injury if they do not lift and move weights with care,” warned Elizabeth Gyngall, head of better working environment department at the HSE.
“But it is not just a case of how much you lift, but they way you lift it that is important. This needs to be everyone’s responsibility, so that the risks are taken seriously, and measures can be put in place to prevent back injury before it is too late,” she added.
There are 468,000 people in the UK who suffer from a work-related back injury, and there were 74,000 new cases reported to the HSE in 2004 alone.