Bucher Municipal clean up their manual handling


The background

Johnston Sweepers road sweeperBucher Municipal (formerly Johnston Sweepers) is the largest global manufacturer of street cleansing equipment. They have four factories in England, producing municipal and contractor cleaning vehicles weighing from 4 tonnes to over 18 tonnes. The manufacturing process is labour intensive, with over 500 staff employed in manufacturing and servicing; working in welding, spray painting, general assembly, electrical, mechanical, stores, spare parts and on-road servicing.

Bucher Municipal were the first company in the industry to be accredited with BS OHSAS 18001 for Occupational Health and Safety. Manual handling accounts for almost half of their workplace injuries. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended 2002) define manual handling as, “the transporting or supporting of a load by hand or bodily force”. It includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving. The regulations require an employer to:

  • Avoid the need for hazardous manual handling so far as is reasonably practicable
  • Assess and reduce the risk of manual handling.

To help them fulfil their legal obligations, Bucher Municipal have used overhead cranes and other assistive devices to avoid the need for manual handling wherever possible.

They asked System Concepts to train all staff who may still be at risk in job-specific manual handling and risk assessment.

What we did

We took a three-step approach.

  1. Observing, filming and photographing of employees performing a range of manual handling tasks. These were useful for knowledge sharing within our dedicated client team working with Bucher Municipal, and to use during training with employees as (good and bad) examples of manual handling techniques.
  2. Training some staff in manual handling risk assessment including:
    • identifying the hazards associated with manual handling
    • assessing the risks
    • identifying control measures to reduce the risk to employees.
  3. Creation and delivery of a bespoke safe manual handling training course, including relevant theory and practical coaching.

Our tailored courses ensured the training was both engaging and relevant to the tasks performed at Bucher Municipal; including manual handling awkward and heavy loads, working in tight spaces and undertaking team lifts. It taught delegates the basic principles for safe manual handling and gave attendees the opportunity to implement what they had learnt; first in a classroom setting and then for real on the shop floor. The practical elements were important to identify how each delegate could apply what we had discussed in the classroom to minimise the manual handling risk.

Our training also included getting delegates to look at photographs, videos and real-life instances of their colleagues performing common manual handling tasks on the shop floor, to practice identifying and assessing risks and then discussing ways to reduce the risk. For example, we discussed use of (alternative) manual handling equipment, adjusting the way the task was conducted and working better as a team. Our in-depth knowledge of the tasks conducted across the Bucher Municipal sites ensured our advice and guidance was appropriate and targeted.

The result

By the end of our safe manual handling sessions delegates could:

  • Understand basic anatomy
  • Understand injury mechanisms
  • Understand the dangers and risk factors associated with manual handling
  • Confidently and competently apply manual handling techniques to their jobs.

The sessions also gave staff the confidence to raise manual handling problems with their managers and suggest potential solutions.

The manual handling risk assessment training resulted in senior staff identifying high-risk manual handling activities and reducing the risk across their sites. Where they were unable to think of ways to reduce the risk to a reasonable level, they asked us for expert recommendations. Together we helped them to achieve this without compromising efficiency.

With our help, Bucher Municipal have significantly lowered their manual handling risk to employees across their sites. They were so pleased with the outcome of the initial training that they asked us to do additional shop-floor coaching in areas where there was a high incidence of manual handling-related injuries, and to deliver a continuous cyclical programme of manual handling training for all their manufacturing and servicing staff every two years.

We regularly update our training presentation with new photographs and videos from the site along with any changes to legal requirements or industry guidance to keep the training relevant and fresh. We really enjoy delivering this training, as its bespoke nature means that the delegates are incredibly engaged and offer their own insights of what is working well and what could be improved upon; allowing us to feed back to senior staff and ensure quick and appropriate action is taken to address any potential issues.

Client testimonial

“An excellent presentation – kept audience fully engaged and involved. It was nice to see a presentation tailored to real Johnston processes.”

Richard Cardwell, General Manager, Sittingbourne site.

“I was most impressed with the flexibility of the course providers. They tailored the delivery of the course around the individual group of workers who attended the session with minimal disruption to the company’s day to day activity.”

Amin Ferdosian, Health, Safety and Environment Advisor, Dorking site.

Speech bubbleIf you have any manual handling training requirements please get in touch. 

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