Is manual handling designed for men?

An author has claimed that most manual handling processes are designed for men, not women.

In her book ‘Invisible Women’, feminist author Caroline Criado Perez argues that product design is biased towards men. She says that many products are stored in large sacks or other containers and are too heavy to be lifted by women. She argues that there should be no reason why, for example, cement is not packed in smaller, more women-friendly sacks.

Many products, she says, are designed for bigger men’s hands. These include bricks and power tools.

What is not included in the book is how manual handling equipment can save both men and women from lifting heavy loads. In the garment industry, with a high proportion of female workers, clothes are hung on wheeled garment rails that can easily be moved without needing a lot of strength.

There are no separate health and safety guidelines for men and women. The GMB union says:

“Women employees should not be asked to lift the same weights as their male counterparts without a specific assessment of the work involved. As a rule of thumb, women workers should only be expected to lift two-thirds the weights of their male counterparts.”

The union points out that any load too heavy for a woman to lift will also be too heavy for many men. Some manual handling jobs require a worker to have a high level of fitness and strength, and this is more important than the sex of the worker.

Posted by Derek
19th March 2019
Health & Safety

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