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Manual handling is defined as the "transporting or supporting of a load by one or more employees and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or of unfavourable ergonomic conditions involves risks, particularly of back injury, to employees". Because it is a major cause of accidents in workplaces (typically 33% of all workplace accidents annually) it is a priority safety issue.
Legislation was enacted in 1993 and updated in 2007 which sets down specific requirements for all forms of manual handling:
* to take appropriate measures to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by employees;
* where manual handling cannot be avoided, to take appropriate organisational measures, use or provide appropriate means to reduce manual handling risks, eg. provide appropriate equipment, reduce mass of loads, better organisation of storage areas, etc;
* the manual handling risks are to be assessed to identify how best to reduce the risks;
* take appropriate measures to avoid or reduce the risks;
* to provide training for all employees involved in manual handling.