A car components manufacturer has been fined after workers suffered back injuries from repeated manual lifting.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) received six reports of workers with back injuries that forced them off work for several days. One worker was in hospital for seven days and off work more than nine weeks. More workers complained of back problems but were not off work for the seven days required for them to be reportable.

An investigation by the HSE found workers on two production lines were lifting heavy engine parts by hand hundreds of times during shifts. Although the parts weighed between 14 and 21kgs, mechanical lifting aids were either not provided, not suitable, or no training was given on operating them. The company’s manual handling assessments were also insufficient.

Mahle Powertrain Limited accepted it had broken the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. It was fined £183,340 with costs of £21,000.

HSE warning

The HSE said manual handling needed to be recognised as a high-risk activity and that getting health issues right was equally as important as safety. It added “An Office of National Statistics report on Sickness Absence in the Labour Market stated that 30.6 million days were lost in 2013 due to musculoskeletal problems. This itself should highlight the need for employers to get health issues right.”

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