Reigate & Banstead Council Case Study

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Street Cleansing Bespoke Manual Handling Training

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Programme Course Outline by clicking the PDF to the right​​

Based at Reigate & Banstead Council's Earlswood depot, the 2 Hour Manual Handling Practical Skills Courses started in the classroom with an introduction by our Manual Handling Expert Paul Henaghan (pictured to the left in the orange hi vis). Our 2 Hour Courses are normally 100% practical (see PDF Course Outline above) however Reigate & Banstead Council requested a short classroom presentation. Paul started with basic spinal anatomy which was briefly covered using an imitation spine model and a lifting demonstration model to enhance the understanding of how hazardous

manual handling practices can damage the back and how much extra force and strain is put onto the back when lifting with hazardous forward bending practice. Each group (during the day Paul provided 3 x 2 Hour Courses training 30 employees) then briefly mentioned what their current musculoskeletal disorders were so Paul was briefed for the practical if any employees on the day couldn't perform the practical or had to perform lighter tasks/ loads. Paul presented our real life, hazardous manual handling practice videos (filmed at our clients' venues) to the attendees to engage them in how hazardous practice happens in all types of industries. The attendees were asked during the videos how the employer could resolve the issues concerning the task, load and environment aiding their Course interaction.

After 25 minutes in the classroom it was time to move onto the practical around the depot. Members of the Street Cleansing team explained certain manual handling issues they had and Paul (using his experience of providing bespoke manual handling training for 20 Councils across the UK) then used inanimate loads across the Earlswood depot to make the training task specific and realistic.

 

With Paul's tutelage, the group performed 10 squats, bending lower through the hips and knees each time. This warmed up their bodies and also focused them to use their leg muscles. Warm ups are something rarely done in real life but are essential before performing manual handling tasks. 

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The first part of the practical was a full squat lift of a small fridge weighing around 15kg (pictured above), lifting it off a pallet, carrying it around 10 metres, and then full squat lowering the fridge back to the pallet. Our Expert Manual Handling Instructor & Registered Osteopath Paul Henaghan firstly showed how to perform best practice lifting and linked this with the classroom theory where he mentioned the 5 key ‘BackSafe‘ principles of best practice manual handling (read these at the bottom of this Case Study).

Paul then allowed the members of Street Cleansing team to ask questions, with each employee then demonstrating the same lift, carry and lower of the fridge. If there was incorrect technique demonstrated, Paul made sure this was corrected by requesting the employee to have another attempt after Paul's technique correction tuition. One of the most common mistakes was that employees were not getting close enough to the load and keeping their feet too narrow. This enforces the spine into a forward bend which increases the strain on the neck and lower back.

An employee asked about the awkward task of throwing refuse bags onto the truck. Bags are commonly heavy, with the contents unstable. Paul commented that throwing involves a twist through the back and the legs and observed how they normally throw bags recommending that throwing should be alternated between a right to left, and left to right twist. Some of the employees were throwing with a combined forward bend (shown in the left video) which Paul informed them could lead to spinal disc injuries. The employee in the video had a long history of back pain and this avoidable forward bend coupled with the (unavoidable) twist would be a factor behind her back pain. Paul then demonstrated throwing with a reduced twist which would minimise the cumulative strain to the musculoskeletal system.

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The next part of Paul's bespoke manual handling programme involved pushing and pulling of a wheelie bin. Pushing and pulling was covered minimally as the Street Cleansing team at Reigate & Banstead Council performed minimal pushing and pulling within their daily roles. If you want to view an extensive coverage of pushing and pulling then read our Case Study for Redcar & Cleveland Council on this link. After everyone understood the practical principles of pushing and pulling the Course moved onto team handling. 

Once you have assessed the load you should position yourself by:

  • Facing the load with one foot in front of the other

(the front foot heel should be just in front of the rear foot toes)

  • Placing the feet your normal hip width apart

  • Bending both your knees (no more than a semi-
    squat)

  • Placing your hands safely on the load, wrapping
    your fingers around its corners or gripping the handles

  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, level with the trunk

  • Keeping your spine upright, looking forward

To initiate movement of the load forward from a standing start drive your whole body forward with your leg muscles, keeping your elbows in, your spine upright and your head looking forward.

Pushing

Facing the Load enables you to control the movement of the load and generally does not involve as much use of body weight (resulting in unsafe spinal posture) compared to pulling facing away from the load. Once you have assessed the load and it is not too heavy for pulling you should position yourself by:

 

  • Facing the load with one foot in front of the other (the front foot heel should be level with the rear foot toes)

  • Placing the feet your normal hip width apart

  • Bending both your knees (no more than a semi-
    squat)

  • Placing your hands safely on the load, wrapping
    your fingers around its corners or gripping the handles

  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, level with the trunk

  • Keeping your spine upright, avoiding a significant backward bend

Pulling

Once you have assessed the load you should position yourself by:

  • Facing the load with one foot in front of the other

(the front foot heel should be just in front of the rear foot toes)

  • Placing the feet your normal hip width apart

  • Bending both your knees (no more than a semi-
    squat)

  • Placing your hands safely on the load, wrapping
    your fingers around its corners or gripping the handles

  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, level with the trunk

  • Keeping your spine upright, looking forward

To initiate movement of the load forward from a standing start drive your whole body forward with your leg muscles, keeping your elbows in, your spine upright and your head looking forward.

Paul explained that the 5 key principles of single person lifting and lowering still applied to team lifting and lowering. With Paul teaching good communication the team leader used '' Ready, Brace, Lift '' (commonly used by the Fire Services) to coordinate the lift. The fridge freezer was 35kg and if one of the team failed to time the lift correctly this could have easily injured their back. The group were split up into pairs with each pair being guided through lifting, and then lowering the fridge freezer onto the truck. The pairs then moved the fridge freezer back off the truck and onto the ground. The video (above left) shows a team lift, carry and lower onto the truck. This was their 1st practice of this task during the training. The employee on the left has her feet too narrow as they should be slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Due to the bulk of the fridge freezer and its awkward shape, her spine is enforced into a side bend to the right. Widening the stance would reduce the amount of side bend. The employee on the right had an ankle that had in the past been fractured and positioning his feet in an ideal squat position was uncomfortable for his ankle. Due to muscle stiffness in the right calf muscle, his right heel came off the ground. Not ideal technique as his feet should be level, slightly wider than shoulder width apart keeping the heels on the ground, but as shown on the video this is what his (previously fractured) ankle was allowing him to do. Paul makes reference to their application as '' excellent '' where he is referring to the coordination of the lift, carry and lower.

The video directly above shows a team lower of the fridge freezer from the truck to the ground. With very heavy loads we recommend not to use the words '' Ready, Brace (or Steady) '' with the recommendation to get the load down quickly, timing the squat lower with the team leader saying '' Ready, Lower (or Down) ''.

The fridge freezer was a very awkward load which did not have any easy places to grip. It made the group understand that perfect 'BackSafe' technique cannot always be performed as some tasks enforce a hazardous spinal posture. Some manual handling training providers preach that perfect technique can be performed all the time. This approach would not be realistic for these individuals and would disengage them, reducing the effectiveness of the training.

At the end of the 2 Hour Course, our Manual Handling Expert Paul Henaghan asked the group if they had any questions, with then a final reminder about the 5 'BackSafe' principles of lifting, lowering, pushing and pulling:

 

  • Keep the load close

  • Face square onto the load

  • Bend through the hips and knees

  • Use the powerful leg muscles

  • Maintain your spinal S-shape

Osteopathic Solutions Ltd

T:  0845 299 3513

E:  handling@osteopathicsolutions.co.uk

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