Recently, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety, announced that the boxes commonly used for kerbside recycling are too heavy for a human to lift. This, if true, could potentially lead to thousands of injury compensation claims. However, not everyone agrees that the boxes are beyond lifting capacity.
So how do you decide whether or not you are staying within safe limits?
Most manual lifting today is carried out after proper risk assessments have been conducted according to the Occupational Health and Safety (Manual Handling) Regulations 1999.
Usually, some type of mechanical aid is used to protect the employee from injuries, such as a lift truck or a pallet truck.
However, there are always minor lifting jobs that any commercial facility might have, such as the office waste to be carried out, the boxes of copier paper to be shifted, or other types of rubbish to be binned.
How do you know whether these tasks are too heavy for your employees? Well, for context, the most commonly used box for kerbside recycling has a 55 litre capacity and weighs about 22.1 kg when filled with equal parts paper and glass.
This is approximately equivalent to two photocopier paper boxes weighing 12.5 kg each. According to the HSE, lifting weight from ground level to above waist height puts the person at risk of back injury.
So does that mean you can no longer have people carry out your commercial or general office waste? Unfortunately is not quite as precise as that, mainly because there is no specific maximum limit for lifting prescribed by law.
Proactively minimise the risks for your workers
However, you may well have a surprise visit from the HSE to contend with, so it is best if you can show them that you are proactively minimising the risks for your workers. Here is what we recommend doing:
- Conduct basic manual handling training for your waste collection workers so that they know the proper lifting techniques to avoid injury. We recommend training one of your workers to impart the training, as it is cheaper than bringing in an external trainer.
- Use smaller waste bins/bags to minimise the strain on your workers when full.
- Consider emptying the waste bins/bags more often or bringing in mechanical aids, especially if your workers regularly lift weights greater than 25 kg.
- You are required by law to carry out risk assessments for each worker whose role regularly involves lifting. If the risks are high, you will need to record the actions taken to safeguard against injury. This safeguards your workers and protects you from lawsuits.
Use a bin lifter for your business in 2022
Filled bins are frequently difficult to manage, and when you need to lift and empty them into a large container, the risks cannot be ignored. That is why it makes a lot of sense to use a bin lifter to do the job faster and more safely. Here are three reasons why:
- Waste disposal becomes much easier and more efficient, thus enabling time and cost savings.
- Bin lifters guard your workers against pollution, disease transmission, and exposure to hazardous materials.
- A sturdy bin lifter allows lifting and transporting massive loads of rubbish or office items in one go – up to 600 kgs depending on the make and model.
Different bins have different capacities and purposes. Therefore, it is best to pick one based on what you want to achieve with it.
- Decide on the bin size. For instance, small or medium-sized lifters work best for office waste disposal. Assess the weight and capacity of the waste created and pick a suitable bin for your business.
- Identify the number of times you will be tipping bins. Is it 2-10 times a day? If so, use a bin lifter with assisted lift facility involving some manual effort. But if your tipping frequency is higher, buy a hydraulic-powered bin lifter that can tip waste all day without human intervention.
- Know the work area and space requirements of your bin lifter. There are two types of bin lifters — lift-and-tilt and full-swing. While the former keeps the lifting motion within the bin lifter’s footprint, the latter involves a complete swing action and requires more space and height clearance.
Over to you
At the end of the day, do not worry too much. You do not have to cease manual lifting entirely — you just need to reduce the risks associated with it. Use your common sense when allocating lifting tasks, and make sure you always have everything recorded for reference later.
Purchase industry-leading lifting and tipping equipment from Simpro, a high quality New Zealand-based bin lifting equipment manufacturer. As its exclusive UK and Ireland distributor, we give you easy access to their cost-efficient and easy-to-use bin lifters.
To find out more, please email us at email@example.com.