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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently released a leaflet aimed at employers and others involved in the production and distribution of newspaper and magazine bundles and includes advice for newsagents. It includes guidance on assessing and reducing risks from manual handling of newspaper and magazine bundles and outlines the requirements of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

It includes guidance on the task, the load, the working environment and individual capability as well as specific advice on loading vehicles, moving loads and making up orders. There is also a section aimed at newsagents.

The leaflet can be downloaded here.

Manual handling (lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling etc.) of bundles in the production, distribution and sale of newspapers, periodicals and magazines can cause strains or serious injuries which may build up over time. Everyone needs to be aware of the risks they may create for others up and down the distribution chain, and co-operate to help reduce the risk of injury.

Identifying Risks
Risks from handling occurs during:

  • loading and unloading of delivery vehicles at the newspaper and magazine producers and throughout the distribution chain;
  • making up orders at the wholesalers;
  • receiving deliveries at the newsagent’s shop;
  • door-to-door delivery rounds; and
  • processing returns bundles made up by newsagents.

Reducing Risk
The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 require you to:

  • avoid the need for hazardous manual handling so far as is reasonably practicable, for example eliminate, automate, or mechanise the task;
  • assess the risk of injury from any hazardous manual handling if it cannot be avoided (look at the task, individual capability, the load and the working environment); and
  • reduce the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Advice for Newsagents
The following advice will help newsagents reduce the risks from manual handling:

  • Try to send back returns every day, or several times a week, to reduce the weight and number of bundles handled by the collection agent.
  • Try to use a front-opening rather than a top-opening secure delivery box to eliminate the need to reach over the rim and down to the base.
  • If you have a top-opening secure delivery box which will not be filled to capacity, put a robust box or similar in the base to raise the load and avoid stooping when lifting out the order bundle. Ensure the height of the false base takes account of the size of the next day’s order.
  • Use a porter’s trolley to move the bundles into and out of the shop.
  • Before moving a bundle, make sure the quantities are manageable – it may be safer to split it.
  • Make sure your returns bundles are not heavier than those made up by the publisher and wholesaler.
  • Make up securely tied bundles with strong twine rather than using flimsy cardboard boxes.
  • Limit the bundles to a height no greater than those you receive so they won’t be too heavy.
  • Use tote boxes where provided.
  • Provide suitable gloves where necessary to reduce the risk of injury to the hands.
  • Check with the local trading standards office about by-laws on any weight limits that may apply to juveniles. Take appropriate action to ensure that newspaper deliverers do not lift, carry or move anything that it is likely to cause them injury. Avoid overloading by using trolleys, splitting rounds, or transporting newspapers to pre-arranged points for collection by the news deliverers.
  • Provide suitable training and regular information to all your staff, including the newspaper deliverers, on safe lifting and the nature of the injuries you are trying to protect them from.

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