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Manual Handling

Manual Handling“Manual handling” refers to any action in which a person must use force to raise, lower, push, pull, hold, or otherwise restrict anything. Some manual handling duties include putting items on racks, cleaning, farming, sweeping, typing, and handwriting.

Working in awkward or prolonged positions can strain body components or limit blood flow to muscles, causing discomfort. Movements that are performed repeatedly can also lead to an increased risk of ‘wear and tear’ on bodily tissue as well as an increased risk of muscle tiredness Length of a task (or continuing similar activities without a break) might affect general and muscle weariness.

Details on manual tasks are available in the  Hazardous manual tasks code of practice 2021

What are musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are injuries or diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system. The muscles, bones, joints, and connective tissues that make up the musculoskeletal system are all part of it.

MSD may refer to:

  • Injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, including sprains and strains.
  • Injury to the back
  • Damage to the joints and deterioration of the bones.
  • Damage to the nerves or compression (for example, carpal tunnel syndrome).
  • Abnormalities of the muscles and blood vessels directly result from hand-arm vibration.
  • Traumatic injuries to the soft tissues, such as hernias.
  • Chronic and acute pain

Risk Assessment

Organizations need to conduct a risk assessment for any physical labor that they believe may put them in harm’s way. Your employees are in the best position to identify any potential risks that may be present in their work. The only circumstance in which you won’t necessarily need to do this is if you are already aware of the risk and how to mitigate its effects.

Consider the employees who might be more likely to acquire an MSD—for instance, an inexperienced worker who has suffered an injury in the past.

  • During your risk assessment of manual labor, you will determine the following:
  • Positions, motions, and forces that could be harmful to the body.
  • When they have the potential to become hazardous.
  • Ways to get rid of or significantly reduce the risk.


When organizing a workplace or a job, make sure you take into account any potentially dangerous activities. Good work design is the most effective method for preventing and managing MSDs and the most cost-efficient manner for managing risks. It would be best to make every effort to design the work so that it does not include any dangerous manual chores. For example, you could automate the systems, so workers do not need to carry loads.

If you are unable to remove all the hazards, the following mitigation strategies can help:

  • Make adjustments to the structure or configuration of the work areas to reduce the amount of manual labor.
  • Make sure the heights of the workstations are appropriate to avoid having to assume uncomfortable positions.
  • Redesigning tasks to reduce the amount of manual handling required, such as by utilizing mechanical aids,
  • Workers should take turns performing tasks that require manual lifting to lessen the stress caused by repeated motions.
  • Training on the proper techniques for manual handling.

Work Area Design

The term “work area design” refers to the arrangement of the various elements of a working environment utilized by employees throughout their duties. These elements include but are not limited to the following.

It is essential that the office equipment you use is in good operating order, has a steady feel to it, and has proper maintenance. Work surfaces, supplies, equipment, and furniture are all included. Discuss any issues regarding your computer workstation with your supervisor or manager.

Work Organisation

How work gets organized in contact centers might increase musculoskeletal and psychological demands. Contact centers might implement various measures to improve their work organization and organization overall. Following the below-mentioned measures at the workplace can mitigate the risks of manual tasks.

Breaks and variations

Office work is classified as sedentary since employees frequently remain seated in the same position for extended periods. This can result in exhaustion, overexertion, or even contribute to injuries like sprains and strains. Because of the nature of the work done at contact centers, there is not much variety in the operators’ duties.

Some practical ways to encourage regular changes in posture and exercise among employees include the following:

  • Changing your routine or switching things up can help you modify your posture.
  • Recommendations are to schedule and encourage small breaks away from the workstation regularly, such as for personal hygiene and refreshments.
  • The timing of these breaks should be open to some interpretation for the workers.
  • This can be employed to assist workers in recovering from the psychological demands of their employment.
  • Encouraging and promoting employees to get up and move around their workspace whenever possible while they are on the phone or between conversations

User Interface design

The user interface (UI of a computer program) serves as a conduit between the staff and the software they utilize daily.

Some benefits of a well-planned out software UI:

  • greater output and contentment
  • fewer keystrokes and mouse movements
  • Fewer errors
  • Manual labor and social hazards get reduced, as is the required training time.

The user interface design has specific inherent hazards, which can be mitigated at work by bringing in experienced consultants.

Training and Supervision

Employees should have training about the following things:

  • Proper setup and usage of their workstations and equipment.
  • Instructed on how to execute their work effectively, given tools for making decisions, and given access to more training if necessary
  • Taught to recognize the symptoms of exhaustion and stress.
  • Urged to seek out a supervisor’s aid when dealing with challenging phone calls
  • Employees should be able to change workstations at the start of and throughout a shift if necessary.
  • Participated in pre-purchase testing of equipment and furnishings as a consultant and participant
  • Report any malfunctioning furnishings or equipment


Hazard identification, risk assessment, risk control, and a review of control measures are the four steps that make up the risk management process. This procedure reduces the staff’s vulnerability to the health hazards connected with workplace hazards.

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