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New Online MSD Risk Assessment Tool

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The Challenge

Half a million workers suffered from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder in 2020/21, with a cost to organisations and to the UK economy. Many workers are exposed to the hazards associated with manual handling. Efforts to eliminate lifting and carrying of loads in industry have resulted in a proliferation of manual handling assist devices.

The Solution

HSE developed a new online, workplace-friendly risk assessment tool for use by regulatory inspectors and dutyholders to help them reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury.

Using walk-through procedures and field trialling, advice was obtained from subject matter experts, a joint HSE and local authority advisory panel, and dutyholder health and safety managers. They looked at the tool's design and technical aspects for robustness, operational utility, and usability in real work situations.

The tool is both user-friendly and effective, and is focused on characterising hazards that are more readily determined in the workplace than the exerted force. It is linked to existing HSE guidance and, because it has been tested and trialed in industry, it is fit-for-purpose and should be well received.

The Outcome

The New HSE MSD Online Assessment Tool/Manual Handling Assessment Tool, launched in 2021, was originally developed to reduce the risk of workplace musculoskeletal injury by increasing dutyholder awareness and ability to identify, and subsequently manage, the key risks associated with pushing and pulling operations in the workplace.

Our research ensured that the tool:

  • is user-friendly
  • requires minimal expert knowledge to apply
  • reduces or eliminates the need for measurement of force, by characterising hazards that are more readily observed and determined in the workplace than exerted force
  • identifies high-risk operations and intuitively indicates good practice
  • is linked to relevant HSE guidance.

In developing this tool we're encouraging organisations to effectively risk assess their manual handling activities. By doing so they may be able to eliminate or reduce a risk associated with manual handling and therefore better protect their workers.



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