New HSE tool for risk assessment of pushing and pulling

Pushing and pulling of loads is a way to reduce or avoid manual lifting and carrying.  Putting the load on a trolley and pushing it is one way of avoiding carrying.

So, when people push and pull instead of lifting and carrying, less effort is required, but there may still be a risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which you need to assess and eliminate or reduce.

Although you may think that the Manual Handling Operations Regulations only apply to the lifting, lowering and carrying of loads, they also apply to pushing and pulling.

The risk assessment of pushing and pulling (the RAPP tool) is aimed at those responsible for health and safety in workplaces – namely, employers, managers and safety representatives – and will help them to identify high-risk pushing and pulling activities and check the effectiveness of any risk-reduction measures.

It is a simple tool designed to help assess the key risks in manual pushing and pulling operations involving whole body effort, e.g. moving loaded trolleys or roll cages, or dragging, hauling, sliding or rolling loads.

This tool is intended to be used alongside the manual handling assessment charts (the MAC tool) which helps assess lifting and carrying operations, and follows a similar approach to that tool by using colour-coding and numerical scoring.

There are two types of pushing and pulling operations that can be assessed using this tool:

  • moving loads on wheeled equipment, such as hand trolleys, pump trucks, carts or wheelbarrows; and
  • moving loads without wheels, which might involve actions such as dragging/sliding, churning (pivoting and rolling) and rolling.

For each type of operation there is a flow chart, an assessment guide and a score sheet.  The flow charts provide an overview of the risk factors and assessment process, while the assessment guides provide information to help you determine the level of risk for each factor.

However, the RAPP tool is not appropriate for assessing pushing and/or pulling operations involving:

  • just the upper limbs, e.g. pushing buttons/knobs, pulling levers or moving loads which are on a conveyor;
  • just the lower limbs, e.g. pushing on pedals, or with the feet; or
  • powered handling equipment.

Please note that using the tool may not comprise a full risk assessment as individual and psychosocial issues should always be considered when completing the RAPP score sheet.

The RAPP tool can be found here and, if you are interested, the MAC tool can also be found here.


Post date: 08 Nov 2016

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