Manual Handling Risk Assessment Report

Manual Handling Risk Assessment Report


I am the Health and Safety Officer (HSO) for The Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) ROC (Resource Outreach Centre). This is a day facility for the provision of recreational and educational activities for adults with physical and sensory disabilities. We currently provide service for over 30 users over a 5-day roster. Following a recent manual handling incident involving one staff member and one service user, I will carry out a review and update the current risk assessment relating to the tasks required to facilitate this service user.

The incident

– as reported by A. Staff. 28


May 2019 in Athy ROC, Co. Kildare.

I was pushing Ms. Service Users wheelchair on her arrival from the bus to the dining room. I had been feeling that her chair was getting harder to push since her recent weight gain. I needed to make a big effort to direct the chair into the dining room. My lower back just really hurt. I can’t continue to push her chair. Also, during personal care Ms. Service User has said that she has become unstable and because the side of the toilet is close to the wall, we (the staff) cannot support her properly.

A.Staff has been given a sickness cert for 2 weeks by her GP to assist in her recovery.


To carry out a manual handling risk assessment report which will create a better and safer work environment for both staff and Ms. Service User.


      Review current Health and Safety Management

      Examine whether current systems are compliant with the Legislation

      Examine current Manual Handling practices

      Carry out a detailed Risk Assessment – Identify possible hazards and Assess risks

      Identify existing Control Measures to eliminate and reduce risks to employees

      Produce an Action Plan to implement recommendations

Current Health and Safety Management

The IWA’s Current position on Health and Safety Management is based on structure, training and information, supervision, signage and PPE used for tasks. The IWA policy statement is addressed to each staff member, service user, volunteer, visitor and contractor. The IWA “

is committed to providing, so far as is reasonably practical, a safe and healthy work environment for all IWA staff and to meeting its duties to service users, members, volunteers and authorized visitors who may be affected by IWA operations”

(extract from Parent Health and Safety Statement).

All staff, on commencement of employment are given induction training. This training allows staff to do their duties safely, while not harming themselves, their colleagues or service users.

Supervision is carried out through the team consisting of the manager and service support officer, the safety support officer and a staff safety representative.

Use of appropriate signage is supplied and applied when necessary (e.g. wet floor signs during daily cleaning). PPE are supplied and worn for duties. Steel toe capped shoes/boots, High-visibility jackets for escort and bus duties, gloves for personal care duties.

Compliance with Current Irish Legislation

The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (SHWWA 2005) is the main legislation providing for the health and safety of people in the workplace in Ireland. The IWA acknowledges their responsibilities regarding the Act. In accordance with Section 19 of the Act, IWA’s safety statement identifies the significant hazards and associated risks. The IWA details arrangements, personnel responsibility and employee co-operation needed to secure the welfare of persons employed. The IWA consult with staff on safety, health and welfare at work matters, in accordance with Part 4 Sections 25 and 26 of the Act.

The Safety Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. These regulations include work equipment, PPE, manual handling, First Aid, Fire Safety, lifting equipment, minimum temperatures and persons with disabilities.

Manual Handling Regulations Chapter 4 of Part 2 involves the Manual Handling of Loads. Key requirements include:

  • Carrying out a manual handling risk assessment
  • Allow the use of mechanical help to avoid or reduce risk.
  • Providing instruction and training.

As mentioned, training is provided, and the safety and welfare of staff is looked after. The Health and Safety Authority (H.S.A.) offer guidelines through Ergonomic Guidance Documents. Where training needs are identified, the IWA, to fulfil the requirements of the health and safety policy, select staff for training.

Current Manual Handling Practices

Current practices within the IWA are achieved through training and implementation of that training. Current legislation and regulation states that Manual Handling is “

any transporting or supporting of a load by one or more employees and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving of a load, which by reason of its characteristics or of unfavorable ergonomic conditions, involves risks, particularly of back injury, to employees”.

These regulations set out the framework to help employers avoid risk of injury through the manual handling risk assessment process. In this report I will be examining 2 areas which need assessment.

Manual Handling task 1 (MH task 1) is the directing i.e. the pushing and pulling of a manual wheelchair. This includes (but not exhaustive of) transporting off and on the bus, inside the ROC (different activity rooms, dining room, bathroom), during outings (shopping, cinema and bowling). Ergonomically the chair is comfortable to push if a lighter user was seated. However, the excessive weight no longer allows ease of movement, even while using the manual handling principles by using the legs to bare the weight. The H.S.A. has guideline weights for MH tasks.

Manual Handling task 2 (MH task 2) is the support that the service user requires during personal care. The service user (from reported discussion) does not feel confident or stable enough to use the regular toilet without support on both sides upon standing, turning and sitting (and in the reverse on return to her chair). The side of the toilet is positioned up against the wall, so it only leaves opportunity for one staff member for assistance. The bathroom is a poor ergonomic design. Had the toilet been placed with standing room on both sides it would allow for staff on each side for support. As per H.S.A guideline weights the service user is over 120kg so even between two staff members her weight is too large to fully support if she lost balance.

Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is the most important aspect of all health and safety management. All employers are required by law to carry out a risk assessment at the workplace and to retain a written record of that risk assessment. It is important here to explain the terms Hazard and Risks.

A hazard is an object that can cause harm. They can be grouped into 4 categories:

  • Human- e.g. poor technique, being drunk, tired, horse playing
  • Biological- e.g. Viral and bacterial infections, High risk areas -kitchens, bins, toilet
  • Physical- e.g. fire, electrical faults, things on the floor, person in a chair
  • Chemical- e.g. Bleach, acids, degreasers, solvents

A risk is the potential to cause harm to a person.

The risk assessment process begins with identifying the manual handling task. There are two manual handling tasks identified. MH task 1 is the pushing and pulling of a manual wheelchair containing an overweight service user. MH task 2 supporting the service user during personal care in an ergonomically poorly designed bathroom.

Use of a risk assessment matrix is a simple mechanism to increase the visibility of risks and assist in the making of decisions. It is a numbered and/or coloured mathematical table used to define the level or risks by considering the category of likelihood against the category of consequence severity. (see appendix 1)

I will proceed with the risk assessment using the ‘TILE’ mnemonic


TASK ……………What are the requirements of the activity of MH task 1 and MH task 2


INDIVIDUAL…… I will question if the staff member is physically unsuitable for the task or if it     effects more than the one member, needing change to current practice.


LOAD…………. Load characteristics cannot be changed, however with mechanical intervention, the service user can be transported without risk of injury.


ENVIRONMENT.. There is not enough room in the bathroom, making the environment increase the risk of injury.

Control Measures to Eliminate/Reduce Manual Handling Risks

Control Measures is the action that is taken to eliminate or reduce the risk. Hierarchy of Control is a system to consider when recommending risk control measures. (see appendix 2). Taken from Schedule 3 of the SWWA 2005. The most effective is:


This physically removes the hazard. With MH task 1 this is not possible. Removing the service user from her chair leaves her immobile and stuck at home.


follows; It is the most effective solution to MH Task 1. It is possible to attach a battery pack to the wheelchair. This will make it motorized which will make for easier use. The substitution of the manual wheelchair for motorized one will ease the pressure on staff for pushing and pulling.

MH task 2 Elimination is necessary. The ergonomic design is poor as the toilet is up against the wall, which prevents access for support on the service users left hand side. As she is no longer strong enough to comfortably support herself. For personal care to continue, the service user needs assistant via mechanical Aid. Staff need to review training on use of hoist and sling. These are available in the centre therefore will not incur additional cost.

Action Plan to Implement Controls

  • Set meeting up with Service users Occupational Therapist (OT) to discuss battery pack attachment
  • Update staff training for use of new mechanised chair for MH task 1. Also, update training for sling and hoist use for MH task 2. Discuss to continue use of toilet or use commode.
  • Record these recommendations. Initiate a 12-month review of all service users regarding weight and risk of injury. Review Ms. Service User in 2 months to check control measures are satisfactory.

Findings and recommendations

  • Although an original manual handling risk assessment had been carried out on the service user, it should have been updated after the significant weight gain.
  • Staff need to report all difficulties regarding manual handling tasks to prevent an injury occurring.
  • New training and information to be given to staff. Fitness programs to be developed and used to reduce the risk of Muscular-skeletal injuries (MSD’s) and work-related upper limb disorders (WRULD’s) This will be very beneficial to reduce the risk of injury and subsequently staff illness and absence.


As the health and safety officer, I, along with the Service Support Officer, am responsible for implementing the recommendations. There is a 6-week timeline for the adapted wheelchair to be accessible. The personal care plan will be initiated immediately on return of the service user.

By producing and implementing this report, I endeavor to upkeep the IWA’s responsibilities regarding legislation, to protect all staff and service users.




  • European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

    available at

    [Accessed 8 June 2019]
  • Workplace health and manual handling available at

    [Accessed 7 June 2019]


  • Nifast, (2013) Manual Handling Instruction Fetac level 6, Dublin:Gill
  • Irish Wheelchair Association Safety Statement.

Appendix 1

Risk Assessment Matrix

Risk Rating 1-7 Low (Green), 8-14 Medium (Orange), 15-20 High (Red).

Major (5) Death High (4) permanent disability Medium (3)

Temporary disability

Low (2) Sprains, lacerations Minor (1) Cuts, bruises, scratches
Very Likely (4) 20 16 12 8 4
Likely (3) 15 12 9 6 3
Unlikely (2) 10 8 6 4 2
Very Unlikely (1) 5 4 3 2 1


Appendix 2

Hierarchy of Control