The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently announced that off-the-shelf manual handling training should become ‘a thing of the past’.

The HSE has issued new musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) advice to help employers decide the type of help required to deal with the MSD risks within their working environments.

The advice, which is web-based, has come about through the collaboration of various trade unions, training providers, professional bodies, safety professionals and consultants and businesses themselves. It was launched at the recent MSD Summit in March.

Geoff Cox, Health and Work Portfolio Manager for the HSE, said: “Our research shows that simplistic training involving bending your knees to lift a cardboard box is just a waste of time and money, it just doesn’t make any difference."

“If you do need staff training, and there are many residual risks where this is the case, then this needs to be customised and professionally delivered. Any such training should be based on observations of current working practices, and should be informed by the views and experience of the workforce.”

We couldn’t agree more. We have on many occasions talked about the vital importance of including site-specific risk assessments and hierarchy of controls as integral elements of all manual handling training. In addition, we have always championed practical, tailored training.

At Alistair Bromhead Limited, manual handling training has never been about lifting cardboard boxes then getting people to sign forms to say they’ve ‘done the course’. Instead, we focus strongly on active participation and encourage involvement from all attendees, emphasising the personal benefits of correct manual handling technique.

Our training is not and never has been off-the-shelf either and we fully agree on all counts that this type of training has no substance whatsoever.

Manual handling risks will vary not just from one organisation to another, but from one job role to another. Not only that, the risks will change based on the person doing the manual handling, taking into consideration physical ability and condition, disability, stature and pregnancy.

Tailored Manual Handling Training

Our nationwide manual handling courses cover a wide range of elements including risk assessments, hierarchy of controls, team handling, manual handling injuries, anatomy of the lumbar spine, good handling technique and practical handling exercises using a range of representative loads. Every course is individually tailored and, if required, can be run on employers’ premises so that any manual handling aids used can be incorporated into the training. The specifics of the handling environment will of course form part of the training too.

The Health and Safety Executive says that off-the-shelf manual handling training should become a thing of the past. If you want to reduce the risk of MSDs in your workplace, be sure to provide your staff with tailored manual handling training.

To learn more about the manual handling training courses offered by Alistair Bromhead Limited, call 0800 710 1099 or email