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'' IHASCO Exposed - The Truth about their Manual Handling Training ''
Written by

Osteopathic Solutions Gareth Milner

15 Minute Read

Firstly before we delve into the subject of this invaluable post, why should you listen to me?

  1. I studied Osteopathy at the European School of Osteopathy, graduating in 2004. Over the 4 years I was trained both theoretically and practically in Biomechanics, Anatomy, Physiology, Orthopaedics, Neuroscience, Neurology, Pathology as well as Osteopathic Manipulative Techniques. Here's my Degree Certificate.

  2. I suffered a debilitating neck injury during my 20s which was mainly from an accident, but cumulative factors were involved also.

  3. I have been involved in Manual Handling & MSD Risk Management as a full time Occupation since 2006; since 2010 as the Director of Osteopathic Solutions Ltd, and in 2022 I published a subject Book called Sorry! We're Closed.

 

This is not ‘floating my boat’, it’s just fact. I am a Subject Expert.

Let us be mindful of the following scenarios …

  • Your car breaks down. You take it to a Mechanic, preferably one who has been in the trade a long time and has been recommended. A Subject Expert.

  • You are experiencing chest pains. You consult a Cardiologist. A Subject Expert.

  • You want to learn how to fish. You get trained by John Horsey, the UK's best known Professional fly fishing Guide and Writer. A Subject Expert.

 

To the left you will see stills from the IHASCO Online Manual Handling Training Programme. Below in this post, you will see more.

And before you start reading, ask yourself the following 2 questions …

  1. As a Health & Safety Professional, do I want the Employees (I am responsible for) to be taught and apply best practice procedures, in all Health & Safety topics?

  2. Do I want to spend the Budget I am allowed on Products and Services of TRUE Health & Safety and Business value?

 

If the answer to these questions is both ‘Yes‘ then read away.

The IHASCO Online Manual Handling Training Programme has the following sections …

Introduction; Your Back; Daily Tasks; LITE Assessment; Techniques; Conclusion; Test.

For each of these (underlined) sections, I will be using my subject Expertise and will openly and honestly provide you with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly about their offering. It will remain professional throughout, providing you with The Truth about their Programme, which you may have invested a lot of your Budget into, or maybe are thinking about doing. Throughout I will also be looking at Osteopathic Solutions' solutions (not a typo :)) to Digital Manual Handling Training, which of course has its place. In my Book Sorry! We're Closed ... Tip 29 is called Embrace the World of Digital.

Introduction

The Good

The introduction is what you would expect to get in this subject. This includes making the Learners aware that Manual Handling Practices occur outside of work. Examples offered include carrying shopping bags … moving furniture … picking up a child … carrying a tray of hot drinks etc. This is important to engage the viewers. Making them aware they are learning a life skill, and not just a work skill/ safer practice. There has been some money spent on the graphics, which are good, like the moving skeleton as shown in the gallery to the right. I also like the Satsuma example for Intervertebral disc injuries.

The Bad

Let’s delve a little deeper through with the skeleton/ spinal graphic. As a practising Osteopath using weekly patient presentations as evidence, spinal pain is most common at the lower lumbar spine/ pelvis, mainly the L5/S1 and sacro-iliac joints. As well in the lower neck, the C5/ C6/ C7 vertebral levels and their associated muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves and intervertebral discs. In the graphic above, the red flashing is at the T7 (7th Thoracic) and the T11 and L1 spinal segments. Rare locations for back pain. You may be saying ‘Is this a major issue Gareth?’ and my reply ‘Well, no. But it is concerning, from a Subject Expert position that the most common areas of spinal pain are not brought attention to.’

The Ugly

The ugliness begins. When we filmed for Osteopathic Solutions Manual Handling Training DVD Videos, we filmed in real factories and warehouses, as well at a Council Waste Services depot. We certainly did NOT film in front of a green screen, with computer generated, or real boxes. We will delve into IHASCO's technical ugliness later in this post, but here's a brief in the images to the left. Lifting ... Holding the top of the box with the right arm. Pushing ... Head looking down. Pulling ... Elbows in front of the body. The worst for last ... Putting down ... the feet too close and the load certainly NOT held in IHASCO's so-called 'Power Zone.'

Your Back

The Good

Out of all of their Programme this is the best section. There is some good content. There are interesting anatomical facts and good statements like ‘your body needs to be cared for.’ A neutral posture and S-Shape spinal curves are mentioned. Simple spinal biomechanics are mentioned including that movement is focused in 2 areas … the neck and lower back. They mention that the lower back carries the weight of your upper back and the weight you are lifting, similar to what we talk about with the weight of your Head, Arms and Trunk (HAT) supported by the L5/ S1 disc (and joint) segment. There are nice, engaging graphics overall of anatomical structure.

Again you can see some money has been spent on the graphical presentation. There is a ‘Don’t Do Your … fried dough with jam in the middle’ analogy with the satsuma, regarding prolapsed intervertebral discs. There are some ok examples of hazardous practices and good use of Child manual handling examples. I concur with ‘at 4 years old bad posture habits start.’ There is a good statement about we need ‘Good back health to practice our favourite pass times’ with examples given as playing football, walking the dog etc. Not specific to Manual Handling, but there is general back health including good postural habits at the desk. At the end they state ‘It’s time to un-learn these bad habits and find our way back to a balanced and aligned body.’

I concur whole heartedly with this. What I will add is ‘It’s time for your employees to un-learn the negligent ‘safer Manual Handling practices’ IHASCO have taught them in their ‘put together by Subject Novices’ Programme.’

The Bad

Within Manual Handling Training, you know it, boxes … they disengage you. You are telling the Practical Training Provider you are in contact with, or your own in-house Trainer, ‘no box sh#t please.’ IHASCO’s practical coverage is dominated with boxes.

The Team Lifting section is filmed in a pleasant garden. The sort you would like to own yourself. Even with a pub bench. I personally love these benches, sitting on them supping a cool, fresh craft beer. I hear you say ‘Gareth, back to the theme’ …......... ‘Oh, yes. I ask the question IHASCO Content Creators … is this a Programme for the Brewery/ Pub/ Gardening industry?’.

LITE Assessment

The Good

There are some important pointers like ... Do you have any injuries? ... Do you need any training? etc.

The Bad

But just all too general, and really common sense points like ... You may need to consider weather and temperature changes? Is it raining? Is it sunny? ... Really points that make no difference, in real life, for the Manual Handling Operative, lifting, lugging, chucking, pushing, pulling and team handling day in, day out. Can you see your Employees questioning this advice? I can.

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Although you may be thinking ... ‘Gareth, their Programme looks good.’ My reply ... ‘It’s a bit like fake trainers sold in Turkey. They look great, but once you delve in. That’s when the problems happen.’ Let me delve in for you as The Good now dwindles, and The Bad and The Ugly grow, and grow alarmingly!

The Ugly

To the left are images of Team Handling. In the first image (from the LITE Assessment section), the man on the left has his feet hip width apart (they later state the feet should be 'shoulder width apart'). In fact, when lifting with a Squat Lift your feet should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. His right arm grip, away from the body, creates significant strain on the right shoulder and neck. The other handlers have their feet (and base of support) better placed. Both men are twisting their necks, looking at the female team leader, when the lift is initiated. This contradicts what IHASCO (rightly say) in the earlier sections ... AVOID TWISTING.

Her head is looking forward, which puts her neck in a backward bent position, compressing her lower neck joints, damaging them. They talk about a 'neutral spine' earlier in the Programme. They are not practising (in this Video content) what they preach. 

As shown in the 2nd image in the gallery above, hazardous carrying practice for the spine is demonstrated. In the commentary there is, for me, a baffling lack of awareness of this hazardous carrying (at the side of the body) practice. Earlier, they mention to avoid side bending and twisting, but here demonstrate this as a safe practice. I will be blunt now, Subject Novices have put this content together and are selling it at an extremely high 'per Employee' cost. My appraisal now gets ugly.

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Techniques

The Good

I rather feel obliged to write The Good for the Techniques section. I will keep it as short as The Good is … as their Techniques section is that ugly.

Here it is … lifting from the floor and lifting from waist height is covered and they state the following: find a stable and neutral position; test the load; lift with your legs; keep a neutral posture; turn with your feet; put down and reposition; two people lifting a load DOES NOT mean that twice the weight can be lifted. Of course, these are good points. However, I want you to take note of the underlined points here as we will shortly revisit them. That’s all The Good. There is no Bad. Now it really does get Ugly.

The Ugly

Here is some basic Biomechanics of the Lower Extremities, expert style. When people are suffering with knee pain (from any structures like the tendons, cartilage, ligaments, muscles), bending the knee more than 60 degrees of flexion will cause discomfort or increased pain. The Gluteus Maximus muscles (your bum) are the true squat lifting muscles. They weaken when you bend the hips more than 70 degrees of hip flexion. Let's be mindful of these facts throughout this IHASCO technique coverage.

Firstly it is same old, same old. Boxes. This will immediately disengage your Learners. In the first image of the gallery below right, always use your legs to lift. Say this to a person with chronic knee arthritis. They won't thank you if you forced them to lift with the legs only. In this situation the back muscles (which of course do have strength) need to be used as well as the legs. Lifting when suffering from knee pain is covered extensively in Osteopathic Solutions Manual Handling Training DVD Videos. Knee pain in humans is so common. IHASCO has simply ignored this in their Programme. Negligence 1. In fact their Programme teaches hyper flexion of the knees to lift loads on the ground. You can see this in the images in the right galleries.

Full flexion of the knees overstretches the Cruciate Ligaments and the Lateral Collateral Ligaments of the knee. Overstretch them regularly and they will become weaker. Weaker ligaments mean less joint stability and earlier onset of Osteoarthritis. This is IHASCO Negligence 2. As an Undergraduate and Qualified Osteopath in Clinic, 1000s of people consulted me with chronic knee pain. As the knee has a compromise between stability and mobility, joint pathology is common in us humans. It's just like the lower back. An area of our musculoskeletal system that has to balance both being stable and mobile at the same time, hence why it gets into biomechanical trouble, and hence why people consult Osteopaths and Chiropractors.

With reference to the 4 images below. Far left image ... the box (load) is away from their so-called 'Power Zone'. You can see that both knees are fully flexed (as just discussed). Right arm is abducted, with the elbow away from the body, causing over contraction of the right (neck) trapezius muscle and right shoulder rotator cuff. Every day as an Osteopath, you clinically manipulate these muscles. 2nd from left image ... right heel off the floor. Mechanical strain imparted on the foot and ankle joint. If you want chronic Achilles Tendonitis and a surgery needing Bunion, lift with one of your feet in this position. You can see that the feet are at best hip width apart. Earlier IHASCO say 'find a stable position.' With the full knee flexion, feet hip width apart resulting in the right heel coming of the floor, you can't get more unstable ... ok, clever clogs. I heard you say 'You could stand on 1 leg Gareth.'

'' Why can't my heel be on the Floor_'' said the Right Foot
'' Chronic Knee Pain & Back Spasms here I come ''
Contradictions with Base of Support Position

2nd image from the right ... the Presenter is talking to the camera. This will subconsciously teach the Learner that looking forward during the first lifting phase is best practice. An exercise for you after reading this Blog. Open another Google tab and search 'neck osteophyte removal surgery'. Then click the Videos. Negligence 3.

Far right image ... The lift has just been completed. The foot position shown is the Base of Support for lifting. Later on in their Programme, this Presenter has her feet shoulder width apart and level. These contradictions of best practice foot position, with NO explanations/ commentary will simply confuse the Learners; that is the ones that are still watching. Negligence 4.

Following the lift from the ground, the box is then lowered onto a table. I ask you the following questions ... Is this what an Operative in a Castings Factory needs? ... Is this what a Food Factory Employee who lifts 25kg bags of flour day in day out, needs? ...  Is this what a Baggage Handler needs? I hope you agree no, it isn't. In the 2nd and 3rd images in the left gallery you will see the task is repeated with another box. I will repeat with an additional word ... the simple task is repeated with another box. In this Programme (at remember, high overall cost for your Company) there are simply no awkward loads covered; no awkward environments and no awkward tasks. There is even zero coverage of safer pulling practices and techniques. Negligence 5.

The practical moves onto lifting from a trolley. In my Blog Post '' The Perils of IHASCO for your Manual Workforce '' I delve into the musculoskeletal issues for the back, hips, knees and feet so feel free to read this additional Blog Post after this. 

As a reminder, IHASCO rightly state to avoid twisting in the earlier part of their Programme. However in this section as you will see in the 4th and 5th images in the gallery to the right, with the position the Presenter stands in, with straight legs and forward bending (stooping) of her spine, she then twists her spine in a forward bent position to push with her left arm the box more securely on the trolley. Forward bending and twisting, as I am sure you will know, is the complete 'NO-NO' of Manual Handling. At this point IHASCO should show the satsuma burst, as this is what this movement pattern causes in people between the ages of 30-45 years old. Here there should be a semi-squat, facing the direction that the boxes will be pushed, using both arms to push the boxes, in the semi-squat position, 100% avoiding any twisting.

The only pushing practical that is demonstrated is of a small trolley containing 2 lightweight boxes, on a flat surface, with handles that are lower than ideal/ best practice coupling. In the Presenter commentary there is a complete ignorance and lack of appreciation for the coupling, which enforces use of body weight and forward bent spinal posture that creates back pain.

 

This may sound a little pedantic to some, but after the pushing ‘demonstration’ the following statement is then read out … Lifting equipment can make a manual handling task safer. However, only use equipment if you’re trained to do so and only if it is reasonably practicable … but it wasn’t lifting equipment. It was a trolley. This will add to Learner disengagement, although they may be so disengaged now that they won’t even notice.

Manual Handling Training DVD.jpg

The Team Lifting and Carrying section. By this stage, I had to ask myself just who did they consult for the Manual Handling content? The content is just so poorly thought out, it is baffling. If you are still with me ... great! As you will understand something that is so basic, but so horribly presented in this Online Programme. Team Handling Negligence 1. First image in the gallery to the right, what are the men doing? You are right. Twisting. They are watching the Team Leader, when they just need to use their ears and maintain their necks in a neutral position, a point IHASCO make in this programme, maintain a neutral spine. No neutrality here. Just neck joints, muscles, nerves and discs that are saying out loud 'Really, you are putting me in this position, lifting this heavy bench?'

Throughout Osteopathic Solutions Accredited Courses, whether training Instructors or the Workforce, we teach and preach best practice team carrying practices. In our Digital Products we include the same. In the 2nd image in the above gallery, you will see the worst of the worst for team carrying. Team Handling Negligence 2. Carry a heavy load like this regularly, and you will be grabbing the Yellow Pages or maybe these days Google for your local Osteopath's telephone number. In this ever ugly Online Programme, there is total ignorance to this biomechanical disaster of carrying. 

Team Handling Negligence 3. Have a look at the images in the left gallery. In Catchphrase Roy Walker's words ... SAY WHAT YOU SEE? ... '' OK, Gareth. I see the man on the left, standing with his feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart. That's good right Gareth?! His grip is asymmetrical. Right arm taking more load weight. His neck is twisted to the left. I see her mirroring him, however I don't know why her feet are hip width apart, with the left foot in front of the other?' I will jump in now. Well observed. As I write in my Book Sorry! We're Closed Tip 17 ... Open Your Eagle Eyes, and that you just did. The twisting continues with the team carry. In the 3rd image in the left gallery, what do IHASCO say you should avoid? Twisting. 

You may be thinking (and I hope you are not, as you would have spent £1000s on their Programme) 'I think I will email IHASCO to demand an explanation or do you know what Gareth ... a refund!' Here's their email hello@ihasco.co.uk I hope you succeed.

Over the years I have delivered (and managed) 100s of Manual Handling Training Courses in all types of 'real' working environments. Say I was at a heavy industry Castings Factory and in the Team Handling section I said to them that 25kg was a '3-Man Lift' they would have said to me 'F*ck this ... I am leaving! What a load of b*llocks!' Remember that's not me that's just said that. Take a look to the right. Compare IHASCO's Ideal 'Dreamland' World and the Real World. Imagine 3 people lifting and carrying a load that weighs 25kg. If that would happen at your Business, I think your CEO should sell up straight away, as I don't think they will be sufficiently rewarded for their lifetime sacrifices.

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Conclusion

The Ugly

There are no 'The Good' and no 'The Bad'. The Conclusion offers nothing of any value with repetition of the same slides. By this point I had concluded that I really wanted the Male Presenter to get a haircut. 

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Test

The Ugly

There are no 'The Good' and no 'The Bad'. From the start of the 5 Question Multiple Choice Test ... yes 5 Questions! ... it is all so very ugly. To pass you need to get 3 out of 5. Yes ... 3/5. That's 60%. Is there any other mathematical way of describing that? Osteopathic Solutions Multiple Choice Test consists of 25 Questions that really prove whether or not your Employee has learnt what they REALLY need to learn, and of course apply every day when manually handling inanimate loads.

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I hope by now you have had your email from IHASCO offering you a refund. With it, you could use only £150 of it and purchase a Digital Manual Handling Training Product of expert value. What could you do with the other £1000s?

About Me!
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Introduction to Sorry! We're Closed
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