With Santa’s elves busy filling the shelves with all things festive, there comes an increased risk of manual handling injuries. Kari Hansen takes a look at how you can maintain safe systems of work over the festive period and protect yourself from opportunistic claims.

Sales are on the increase in the build-up to Christmas and all retailers will be feeling the pressure to keep up with demand. This places additional strain on staff to move and deliver stock to and around the store or in the warehouse. Frequent and heavy lifting and/or handling can cause injuries that may result in a claim.

Following the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, retailers now only have a common law duty to do everything reasonably practicable to protect their employees.

A Christmas cheer can be heard as the burden now falls on claimants to prove that the employer could or should have done more. But, to succeed in defending claims, employers will still have to show that all staff are trained in manual handling techniques.

This is imperative and even true of temporary workers who are employed only for the festive period to help retailers cope with increased demand.

Things to consider for your winter training plan

  • Assess the risk in all manual handling operations.
  • Restrict employees’ manual handling operations as far as is reasonably practicable.
  • Reduce the size of loads and modify workstations to reduce carrying distances.

Remember, a bad back may be for life, not just for Christmas!

This article originally featured in retail claims' Christmas newsletter 'let's talk shop' .