The sense that little in Britain works anymore has slipped into our very buildings, with hundreds, if not thousands of public buildings at risk of collapse over the use of Raac – reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete. Raac has forced the closure of more than a hundred schools alone, with the cheap construction material used between the 1950s and 1990s also found in courts, hospitals, and other public buildings.

Similar to the issue of asbestos, Raac could be present in an unknown number of buildings given how widely it was used in construction. The Health and Safety Executive said Raac is “beyond its lifespan” and may “collapse with little or no notice.”

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With people suffering from sky-high inflation, a mortgage and rental crisis, strikes across the economy and a cost of living crisis that affects everyone’s pocket, does health and safety get forgotten about? HSE figures show people are still being killed and injured at work, but even the HSE is suffering from a 43% drop in funding and slashing staff almost in half.

For health and safety professionals, the challenge in today’s workplace is ensuring health and safety remains a top priority in a world of overlapping crises when many people are struggling to make ends meet. Health and safety has never been more important when an accident at work could leave people in an even worse position.

Watch our on-demand webinar, where we look at health and safety in the context of today’s economic challenges. We look at compliance lessons from other challenging times and understand the lessons we can learn in how to ensure health and safety remains front of mind for workers.

In this session, we discuss:

  • The impact of inflation and cost of living crisis on health and safety infrastructure
  • Recent cases and statistics of H&S challenges for businesses
  • Best practice in health and safety training and compliance
  • The risks to organisations in letting health and safety compliance slip
  • Lessons from compliance priorities in challenging times

Watch the on-demand webinar and learn to deal with H&S challenges in today’s economic climate.

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Deaths have increased since the pandemic but half of ‘mandatory investigations’ don’t happen, leaving employers and families in the dark

New data published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE – 6 July) has revealed 135 people died in 2022/23 due to work-related fatalities. There was a distinct drop in deaths at work during the pandemic at 123 the year before, but since the economy has re-opened, the figures have generally returned to their pre-coronavirus levels and remain stubbornly high. Yet the HSE doesn’t know why in at least half of all cases, and isn’t giving employers enough information to prevent these tragedies happening again.

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In the last year in the UK, there were over 78,000 reportable injuries at work in the last year. At least 2 million sick days are taken because of back pain – two thirds of which could have been avoided through the use of safe manual handling techniques. Most manual handling injuries actually do not occur as a result of intense or strenuous activities or unexpected events such as a fall, but rather are the result of cumulative strain, i.e. gradual wear and tear caused by day to day tasks.

What is manual handling in the workplace?

Manual handling in the workplace refers to any activity that involves the lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, or moving of objects or people by hand. It is a common task in many industries and workplaces, ranging from offices to construction sites, warehouses, healthcare facilities, and more.

Manual handling tasks can include activities such as lifting boxes, stacking shelves, moving equipment, transferring patients, and handling tools or machinery. While manual handling is a necessary part of many jobs, it can pose various risks to the health and safety of workers if not performed correctly.

Who is responsible for safe manual handling at work?

In the United Kingdom, the responsibility for safe manual handling at work primarily rests with employers. They have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their employees under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations.

The importance of manual handling at work

Effective manual handling practices are of paramount importance in the workplace. By prioritising safe manual handling techniques, employers can significantly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and promote the overall well-being of their staff. Proper manual handling not only safeguards employees from immediate harm but also helps prevent long-term health problems, such as back injuries and repetitive strain injuries. By providing appropriate training, implementing control measures, and fostering a culture of safety, employers can create a work environment that values the physical health and safety of their employees. Prioritising manual handling safety contributes to increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved job satisfaction, ultimately leading to a more efficient and healthier workplace.

What are the 4 key factors of manual handling?

The four key factors with respect to manual handling are commonly referred to as “TILE.” Each letter in TILE represents an important aspect of manual handling.

  1. Task: This refers to the nature of the manual handling task being performed, such as lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling objects. It involves considering the weight, size, and shape of the objects being handled.
  1. Individual: This factor focuses on the capabilities of the individual involved in manual handling. Considerations include their physical fitness, experience, training, and any pre-existing medical conditions or limitations.
  1. Load: The load factor involves assessing the characteristics of the object being handled. This includes its weight, stability, shape, size, and any potential hazards associated with it. It also encompasses factors such as the need for team lifting or the use of mechanical aids.
  1. Environment: The environment factor considers the surrounding conditions in which manual handling takes place. This includes factors such as the layout of the workspace, the presence of obstacles or uneven surfaces, lighting, temperature, and any other potential hazards or risks present in the environment.

Manual handling at work: a guide

VinciWorks and DeltaNet have produced a valuable, in-depth guide to manual handling. The guide provides a background to the topic and explains what the risk factors are with regard to cumulative strain caused by manual handling. The guide sets out the legal requirements on employers and goes through different types of manual handling and the risks involved in each type. Readers are taught how to identify red flags, how to conduct a risk-assessment, and how to reduce the risk of injuries. 

Any organisation whose workers engage in manual handling will benefit from this guide that sets out your legal obligations as an employer, explains the risks and how to make sure workers are able to perform their jobs safely and effectively and prevent lost productivity, increased absenteeism and reduced quality of life for affected workers.

Download the guide

Manual handling training

Training is a key factor in reducing injury and accidents from manual handling; click to learn more about our manual handling training and manual handling challenge courses.

Health and safety training

DeltaNet provide market-leading Compliance, Health and Safety, and Performance online training solutions that fit the needs of your business. Click here to learn more.

FAQs on manual handling training

What is manual handling training?

Manual handling training refers to the process of educating individuals on safe techniques and practices for handling objects manually. 

What is the purpose of manual handling training?

The purpose of manual handling training is to provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to minimise the risk of injuries and promote safe working practices when lifting, carrying, pushing, or pulling objects.

Do staff need to do manual handling training?

All staff members that are involved in manual handling activities should undergo manual handling training. It’s important for organisations to provide this training to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees. 

How long does manual handling training take?

The duration of manual handling training can vary depending on several factors, including the specific content being covered, the training provider, and the needs of the participants. Generally, manual handling training courses range from a few hours to a full day. The specific duration of manual handling training should be determined based on the needs of the participants and the scope of the training program being implemented.

Is manual handling training a legal requirement?

Under UK health and safety regulations (Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992), employers have a legal duty to assess and manage the risks associated with manual handling activities.

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In a rapidly changing economy, companies are ever more reliant on a well-functioning supply chain to get things done. From outsourcing payroll to launching a new product, supply chain management has never been more crucial. Examining the risks posed by new suppliers is equally vital. A worrying incident can have a knock-on effect on your business, from reputational risk to fines or criminal action.

Many companies have become highly skilled in managing their own health and safety risks, particularly since the pandemic. But what about the health and safety risks of third parties? What are your legal, ethical, and ESG responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of workers in your supply chain? How do you ensure suppliers are meeting their health and safety obligations, how do you assess suppliers for risk, and what should you do if you have health and safety concerns in your third parties?

In this webinar, VinciWorks, in collaboration with our partners DeltaNet, examine the risks of third-party failures in health and safety.

We look at:

  • Legal, ethical and ESG obligations in supply chain management
  • The health and safety expectations of third parties in your value chain
  • The risks of a health and safety failure from a third party
  • How to mitigate third-party risks in health and safety
  • Undertaking health and safety-focused risk-based due diligence

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Employee vaccination policy

Covid-19 is still around, but a combination of more knowledge about how the virus works plus widely available vaccines and boosters have allowed many workplaces to return, at least partially, to a more normal, if sometimes changed and updated, routine.

Vaccines are not a legal requirement in most sectors, but the government has instructed employers to recommend and encourage staff to be vaccinated.  Employers should be thinking about how they encourage vaccination, even if there is no legal requirement. A company might share practical information about how to get vaccinated, post information on company sources, and allow workers to take time off to be vaccinated. Employers should also consider how to ensure their sick leave policies and procedures do not disincentivize workers from getting vaccinated. This could include concerns about side effects, and enabling staff to take a limited amount of time off after a vaccine if they suffer from a side effect, without necessarily having to provide a sick note.

Sample vaccine policy for employers

How does your business define fully vaccinated? Do you expect staff to get boosters? Do you give time off for shots, or have incentives for those that get boosted?

These are some of the most important questions facing employers during the current Omicron wave and afterwards as people return to the office.

It’s important to have a strong vaccine policy at work, which is flexible and ready to incorporate new legal guidance around mandates as well as booster shots. This could be as simple as updating policies from “double-jabbed” to “fully vaccinated” to avoid confusion as definitions change. 

Download the sample vaccination policy template

If you don’t have a comprehensive vaccinations policy you can download our template and use it for free. Customise it with your organisation’s own incentives and procedures for encouraging vaccinations and meeting your duty of care to staff.

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One of the most tangible impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the rapid change in working practices. While the pandemic is not necessarily over, widespread vaccine roll-out programmes have allowed many places to return, at least legally, to some semblance of normality.

There’s a lot to consider in the topic of employment law, with much potential for change. Many companies now have hybrid work policies. What else might change in the future? What will employment law look like in one year, five years, or ten? What will the impact of Brexit be? 

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Mental Health: Wellbeing at Work shortlisted for Healthcare Excellence award

Zenith Global Health Awards

The sixth annual Zenith Global Health Awards will be held in London in November, celebrating excellence and innovation among healthcare professionals. VinciWorks’ online course Mental Health: Wellbeing at Work will be among finalists, nominated alongside some of the world’s leading doctors and healthcare professionals.

The awards are set up by healthcare professionals to acknowledge and celebrate fellow healthcare and allied healthcare professionals for their commitment and dedication which is seldom acknowledged. Zenith nominees are based on merit and evidence of achievements and positive impact on healthcare delivery, practice or workforce. 

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Screenshot of social distancing training module

With the global rollout of the coronavirus vaccine gathering pace, in many jurisdictions, employers are being given more discretion to decide whether staff can and should return to the office. If your organisation has employees working from the office, you have a duty of care to your staff. Managers must ensure a safe working environment where employees’ health is protected.

This means they have to ensure they have a safe place to work, safe work equipment, their health is protected while working, and assess risks to their health and safety and take action to mitigate those risks. This includes protecting staff from COVID-19. Staff themselves have a responsibility to keep themselves and those around them safe and to learn the best ways to do that.

COVID-19: Social Distancing at Work specifically covers these topics. The course can be used as a standalone unit or as a unit within our standard OHS course.

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With the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in full swing and restrictions being repealed, companies are reevaluating their office policies and home working rules. But many people are anxious, or at least conflicted, about returning to in-person work, whether for health reasons or due to the flexibility they feel they’ll lose.

To help organisations with the process, we have recorded a short on-demand webinar. In this video, our Director of Learning and Content Nick Henderson explores some of the mental health aspects of returning to the office, sharing key ideas and tools to help manage this transition for your workforce.

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Free COVID-19 compliance resources

VinciWorks has created several helpful resources such as guides, on-demand webinars, policy templates, courses and more to help businesses manage the pandemic and beyond.

COVID-19 resource page