HSE MAC tool survey

Assessing the risks associated with manual handling

3 June 2013

Manual handling is still a prevalent cause for work injuries. Soft tissue damage, or musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), continues to account for more than 40% of lost-time injuries. 

As we look around the globe for good practice sharing, in Ontario, Canada, there is a specific risk appraisal system for soft tissue assessment. However, in questioning health and safety inspectors, we learn that there are still limitations and concerns. 

The likelihood, in fact, is that specialized ergonomists will be brought in to assess lifting and handling tasks in the workplace. While the results will be comprehensive, Manual Materials Handling (MMH) reviews are an expensive process, and one that many companies will not be able to afford.

Further concerns have highlighted a possible gap between assessment of risk and amelioration of risk, and questioned the inflexibility of training programmes. These may tend to concentrate more on broad training issues, rather than individual workplace specifics.

Seen with this background, the problems associated with manual handling risk assessment were recently discussed at an Ontario forum, which featured the Manual handling Assessment Chart (MAC) tool.

The forum pulled together many parties involved in MSDs prevention and welcomed the chart as a tool that could help users determine high-risk workplace activities.

Your thoughts on MAC tool usage

To this effect, a survey has now been launched, aiming to look at the MAC tool’s usage and acceptance through the eyes of end users.

Questions such as "When does your health and safety team use the tool?", "Why don’t you use the tool more frequently?" and "Have you only come across the tool as an element of enforcement by the HSE?" will be featured and help us understand MAC tool’s applicability.

Could you spare a few minutes to answer some questions about this topic? The short questionnaire can be found here, and is also a featured discussion on the official IOSH LinkedIn group. In addition, your thoughts and comments on the MAC tool are greatly appreciated and can be emailed directly to the researcher at tflowersergo@gmail.com.

About the researcher

Terry Flowers is an independent consultant ergonomist currently working in Toronto, having formerly worked in both the UK and Ireland. For more information on her study and the survey, including any technical enquiries, Terry can be emailed attflowersergo@gmail.com.