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Risk assessment provisions are set out in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1998.

Under the Regulations risk assessment is the employer's responsibility.

In general manual handling risk assessments should be recorded, but an assessment need not be recorded if it could very easily be repeated and explained at any time because it is simple and obvious or the handling operations are low risk and are going to last a very short time.

It is sometimes acceptable to perform a "generic" assessment but this should only be done if there are no individual or local factors which need to be taken into account. For example if there are many different employees of different heights, different abilities etc.

If there are employees within the workplace who are disabled in terms of the Disability Discrimination Act then a separate risk assessment for those employees must be carried out.

What is 'manual handling'?

Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (as amended) 1992 (MHOR) manual handling is classified as "any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force".

The MHOR 1992 establishes certain measures to mitigate the risks associated with manual handling as follows:

  • as far as is reasonably practicable, hazardous manual handling procedures should be avoided;
  • hazardous manual handling operations which are unavoidable must be fully risk assessed; and
  • the risk of personal injury must be reduced as far as reasonably practicable in all manual handling operations.

What happens if an accident occurs and no risk assessment was carried out?

As work accident claim solicitors in Scotland, we are often asked whether the absence of a risk assessment gives rise to liability when a manual handling injury occurs.

The simple answer to this is no.

In the case of Logan -v- Strathclyde Fire Board Lord Eassie confirmed that what matters is the substantive duty of taking proper precautions to reduce the risk of injury which will give rise to liability rather than the procedural obligation to carry out a risk assessment.

The absence of a complaint or previous accident does not mean that an employer can assume that a risk assessment is not required. What case law has made clear is that an employer will be liable for a lifting accident if, had a proper risk assessment been carried out, it would have indicated steps that could have been taken to reduce the risk of injury which might have avoided the injury.

Do you need to talk to Thompsons about a manual handling injury?

Contact Thompsons Solicitors in Scotland about personal injury accidents involving manual handling. We can quickly assess the circumstances and will advise you on the likelihood for success in a claim.

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