Mitchell Winter asks:How is your back today?

First of all let me share a secret with you, yes I suffer with my back. Years of neglect as a youth thinking I am tough, strong and invincible, well with age comes the realisation of back pain.

For all of us, part of the problem is that your spine, known to me as a suspension system and your discs known as shock absorbers have a very limited blood supply.

You might well ask, what has this to do with back pain, well the answer is pretty simple. Where you have good blood supply it follows that you have good sensory perception. For example, hold your hand out and slap it quite hard on the knuckle side say 5 times, what do you feel? Yes, pain. In other words your body, in this case your hand, is saying ouch that hurts, so stop it.

Now roll up your sleeve and hold your arm out straight and pinch as hard as you can the loose bit of skin on your elbow also known as a “weenies”, what do you feel, absolutely nothing, that’s because you have little or no blood supply so even though you are hurting yourself, you do not feel the pain.

The point is that you can be hurting your back on a daily basis without even realising this as the pain is masked by the limited blood supply, so when eventually you do start to suffer with back pain, whether muscular and or skeletal it means that your back has given up trying to mask the pain and is now telling you that an injury has been realised.

From this point on you have to be very careful and employ appropriate posture at all times when undertaking Manual Handling tasks whether at work or at home. Back pain is indiscriminate; it does not care where you are, it will strike with a vengeance.

Yes I know you are muttering, well bend zee knees, so whilst on the subject of posture what I have to say is that whilst most people do remember to bend zee knees, they don’t keep their back straight in order for the suspension and shock absorption system to work, thereby transferring the entire weight of the load to the apex of their back being the lumbar region, hence everyone seems to suffer from lower back pain.

Well I hope you have enjoyed my moan and advice and would ask that you consider the following carefully:

One of the reasons that Manual Handling is so often overlooked is that many Organisations simply do not recognise it as an every day activity when in reality it is and a pretty hazardous one and is also covered by the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 so as to avoid harm occurring to your employees. All you have to do is ask your self the following:

Do we take delivery and move any of the following:

  • Stationary
  • Computers & Laptops
  • Printers
  • Furniture
  • Water containers

Well if the answer is yes, then it is Manual Handling and you need to provide adequate levels of Information, Instruction & Training for those involved, as well as the compulsory Workplace Risk Assessment.

Please remember that a Manual Handling Risk Assessment together with training are both legal and Insurers requirements.


What is Manual Handling?
The Transporting and supporting of a load using bodily force Pulling, pushing, carrying even throwing.

Am I required by Law to provide adequate levels of Information, Instruction & Training?

Do we have to carry out a Manual Handling Risk Assessment?

What is the first Rule of Manual Handling?
Avoid it by using a mechanical aid.

Does that mean a trolley?
Any Handling Aid should be suitable and sufficient for its purpose, so don’t use a regular trolley to handle loads on stairs but use a stair climbing trolley.

What is the second rule?
Don’t just keep you knees bent but also keep your back in the upright position when lifting.

What part of my body is most at risk?
Primarily your lower back (lumbar region) and feet/toes.

What legislation applies to this subject?

  • The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regs 1999
  • Manual Handling Operations Regs 1992
  • Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regs 1998
  • Personal Protective Equipment Regs 1992

The end result, well if you undertake Manual Handling tasks having trained the people responsible and having carried out a Manual Handling Risk Assessment, you will benefit from:

  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Reduction in Manual Handling accidents
  • Increased productivity
  • Adding value to your Organisation
  • Increasing Profitability
  • Increased moral
  • Less turnover of staff

At Winter & Company we run a monthly in-house Manual Handling Training programme here at our Training suite just off Fleet Street EC4. Just visit and view “must do courses”.

Alternatively we will Train your Handlers and undertake your Manual Handling Risk Assessment at your place of work. Just call Eve Horgan on 020 7353 4999 ext 221 and leave the rest to us.

Winter & Company: Keeping you advised and up to date in matters of Health & Safety