HSE Reports Back On Bad Backs

A snapshot of good and bad manual-handling practices on construction sites across Great Britain has been revealed after six weeks of inspections.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out more than 1,000 inspections in October and November 2022, checking how workers were moving heavy, bulky and awkward-to-handle materials.


Good for Glass and doors

The inspections revealed many examples of good practice. These included the use of mechanical equipment to handle large glazing panes, using small inexpensive air bags to help to position heavy doors when being installed, and the use of all-terrain pallet trucks to move blocks and brick-lifters to carry bricks around site.


Kerbing bad habits

HSE inspectors also found many examples of poor practice, including a worker lifting an 80kg kerb on his own without any assistance from machinery, lifting aids or colleagues; and a 110kg floor saw that had to be moved into and out of a work van by two operatives at a street works site. Both incidents resulted in enforcement action.



Working in construction is a physically demanding job and many construction workers suffer injuries to muscles, bones, joints and nerves that affect their health and ability to work.


 “Lifting and moving heavy, bulky and awkward-to-handle objects on construction sites is harming the health of thousands of construction workers to such a degree every aspect of their lives is affected.”

– Mike Thomas 

Acting head of construction division, HSE


Musculoskeletal Disorders

The law requires employers to prevent the ill health of their workers, which includes injuries to muscles, bones, joints and nerves that can develop over time, known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Moving and handling risks should be considered and prevented where possible at the design stage.  Once on site and before work starts, employers should talk to workers about controlling existing risks to make sure that the right handling aids, equipment and training are in place to prevent MSD injuries.


Your health. Your future

Supporting the inspections, HSE ran a communications campaign ‘Your health. Your future’, which raised awareness of the inspections through media, social media, podcast and webinars to provide helpful advice, information, and links to guidance, for employers and workers. 


Picture – for illustration only: The HSE inspected sites where glass and doors were being lifted badly and sites where kerbs and tools were lifted in a way that could cause harm.



Article written by Cathryn Ellis
23rd February 2023


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