Welcome to the pages of the European SLIC inspection and information campaign devoted to manual handling of loads

2008. Manual handling of loads in retail trade and construction sectors.

Ailments described by the notion of “musculoskeletal system disorders” are the most common health problems connected with work, which affect European Union employees. In this connection, still in 2007, the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee initiated a European inspection campaign under the “Lighten the Load” slogan. Its first edition covered employers and employees from the health care and transport sectors.

The importance of problems connected with musculoskeletal ailments and experiences stemming from the implementation of last year’s campaign influenced a decision for its continuation also in 2008. This year’s “Lighten the Load” campaign is addressed to the trade and construction sectors. The Polish labour inspectorate takes over the coordination of the undertaking from its Dutch counterpart.

The selection of sectors for the MHL 2008 campaign was imposed by the occurrence or high probability of the occurrence of health problems stemming from handling loads among workers employed in shops and on building sites.

Retail trade found itself in the sphere of interest of European inspectorates due to a wide application of manual transport in this sector. Unloading of goods, their storing and placing on racks, work at cashier belt conveyors and prolonged work in forced sitting or standing position are only the basic activities of trade employees imposing a load on their musculoskeletal system. The main areas of control in the retail trade sector cover:

  • Distribution centre;
  • Chain stores;
  • Supermarkets.

The sub-sector of chain stores has been additionally separated in order to check whether the irregularities in the field of manual handling of loads in this sector are connected with the policy pursued by the chains or whether they are caused by domestic conditionings. The analysis of the results of the campaign in this sub-sector will facilitate the inspectorates to take up actions together with managements of the chain both on the European and on national levels.

The construction sector found itself in the sphere of interest of European inspectorates owing to the scope of applying manual handling of loads in it. Lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, servicing heavy tools and mechanical devices, bricklaying, plastering, installation works in trenches, in forced body positions are the basic activities of construction employees burdening their musculoskeletal system

The sizeable number of persons employed in those sectors, combined with considerable injury risk causes that health problems connected with the musculoskeletal system of trade and construction employees bear serious social consequences for themselves, their families, employers, government administration and the entire European Union.

These sectors have been selected also due to the need of ensuring their employees equal chances and the same level of their health protection in all countries of Europe.