Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Admin
Manual handling is vital in almost every working environment, from farms to factories and hotels to hospitals. Nearly every employee will have to perform the task at some point in their career, whether it is lifting boxes at a warehouse, moving materials at a construction site, pushing carts at a grocery store, or cleaning at a restaurant.
The process seems straightforward and harmless at first glance: move, lift, lower, carry, push, pull, transport something or someone. However, unsafe manual handling can lead to dire consequences that include severe injuries, debilitating ill-health, legal action, and destruction of property or costly goods.
In its 2019 to 2020 report, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveals that manual handling is one of the top causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
Such conditions include chronic back pains, hernia, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Furthermore, improper manual handling often results in accidents that cause acute trauma, including cuts, bruises, fractures, and soft-tissue injuries to arms, legs, neck, shoulders, or wrists.
If your job requires you to carry out any type of manual handling activity, chances are you have heard about TILE. You probably also know that it is a fancy acronym for something. But what does TILE mean exactly? How does it affect you, and how do you apply it?
What Does TILE Stand For?
TILE stands for Task, Individual, Load, and Environment. These are the four essential factors that every worker should consider before doing a manual handling task. TILE reminds employees and employers which areas they need to examine as part of their risk assessment and evaluation.
Why is TILE important? TILE reduces the potential hazards associated with manual handling, ultimately creating a work environment that is both healthy and safe. It does not only promote employees’ well-being but also helps secure the company’s financial stability.
To better understand the process, let us look into each aspect of TILE.
Workers about to carry out manual handling should understand the nature of the task. Knowing the dangers allows them to decide how to best handle the job, which lessens the possibility of accidents and ensures that they do not overstrain themselves.
How do you determine what risks are involved? Check if the activity requires you to perform repetitive and strenuous movements or walk long distances while carrying a heavy load.
Other questions to ask are: Does the task involve a lot of stooping, twisting, or reaching upwards? Do you need to hold or carry the load away from your body? Does the activity include too much lifting, lowering, pushing, or pulling?
Is there an excessive amount of load to carry, for example trying to move a hired construction waste skip without using machinery? Will there be prolonged physical effort? Is the time to rest and recover insufficient?
Answering yes to any of the questions signifies that the task is inherently more hazardous compared to others. It implies that accidents or injuries are more likely to occur when you are performing the task. Therefore, you need to come up with measures to minimize the risk, including reducing physical effort by sharing the load with other people and allowing longer breaks.
You should take into account the different capabilities and strengths of individuals performing the task. Factors such as age, health conditions, height, and previous manual handling experience or training impact how one does a manual handling job. For instance, some tasks are more suitable for persons who have undergone specific training.
To assess if an individual is fit to do the task, answer the following questions: Does the job need a specific level of strength to complete? Does it require the person to be of a certain height?
Is the individual pregnant or suffering from a health problem? Is the worker trained on safe manual handling? Does the activity require a special skill, knowledge, experience, or training?
Completing the evaluation helps you determine whether a person is qualified to perform the task. In some cases, you would have to replace the worker with someone more able. However, in other instances, you only need to assist the employee to complete the task.
The size, shape, weight, and nature of the load affect how you carry out the task. Note that manual handling does not only apply to objects but also people and animals. Handling a living creature requires more care and can be more difficult than moving or carrying things.
A large load can be broken down into smaller parts to make it easier and safer to handle. Additionally, workers can use machine assistance to carry or lift very heavy or large items.
In case, they are transporting a hazardous substance, such as chemicals, they need to use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Other concerns that you consider are: What is the weight of the load? Is the load a hazardous substance? Does it have sharp edges? Is it difficult to grasp? Is it bulky? Is there a risk of breakage or spillage? Is the item extremely hot or cold? Will its size or shape affect your visibility?
There are several ways of handling a load to reduce the risk of damage, accidents, or injuries. For this reason, all employees should have the appropriate manual handling training to ensure safety in the workplace.
The place where manual handling happens can make the task either easier or more difficult. Simply put, the layout or terrain of the area impacts how quickly or conveniently workers will be able to handle the load.
Consider all the factors that affect the environment. Many risks are avoidable once you become aware of them. Be sure to identify the hazards by answering these questions: Is the ground even and stable? Is the surface slippery? Are there stairs or changes in floor level?
Will the temperature vary during the task? Is there enough ventilation, particularly for hazardous substances? Will the temperature or humidity affect your grip on the load? Will the weather conditions affect the activity? Does the environment have sufficient lighting?
Plan your route carefully and make sure that the path is free of obstruction as your load might affect your line of visibility, prevent you from opening doors or switching lights on. If the task takes place outdoors, research the weather in advance. Strong winds, rain, ice, and extreme temperature can increase the risk of injuries and accidents.