The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland is the state-sponsored body in Ireland responsible for securing safety, health, and welfare at work.

Ireland Rolling Out New Ergonomics Standards

Employers must organize the work "to allow the use of mechanical or other means to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by employees in the workplace," according to the regulations.

Ireland's Health and Safety Authority has scheduled a nationwide series of six seminars to explain new regulations for manual handling and people handling. The regulations say employers must organize their sites "to allow the use of mechanical or other means to avoid the need for the manual handling of loads by employees in the workplace," with the traditional hierarchy of controls followed: elimination first, then substitution (such as bulk purchase or movement of raw materials to eliminate the need to lift sacks or bags of flour, grain, powdered chemicals, animal feed, or cement). Employers must consider whether manual handling can be eliminated or reduced in the design of systems of work, according to HSA.

Ireland's Regulation 68 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007 defines manual handling of loads as "Any transporting or supporting of any 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 unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees." It says the "characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions" are the risk factors outlined in Schedule 3 of the 2007 Regulations that have the potential to cause harm.

The seminars begin Oct. 7 in Galway and will continue until Oct. 29. The Oct. 13 event takes place in Dublin, where HSA has its headquarters. The agency worked with FETAC (Further Education and Training Awards Council) to devise the manual handling and people handling training standards.

Irish employers at the outset will have to carry out a full risk assessment of existing manual handling tasks before deciding which manual handling tasks need to be avoided or reduced. The regulations also say employers must ensure that particularly sensitive risk groups of employees are protected against specific hazards and individual risk factors, and also must conduct health surveillance in regard to manual handling of loads by employees. Those who are manually moving loads are to receive information about the weight of each load and the center of gravity of the heaviest side when a package is eccentrically loaded.

Two guidance documents -- "The Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 Chapter 4 of Part 2: Manual Handling of Loads" and "Management of Manual Handling in the Workplace" are available online at www.hsa.ie.

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