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What is manual handling in the workplace?

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By John Healy of Healy Insurances

Manual handling at work is legislated under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work regulations 2007.

It is a physical activity that takes place in every workplace, and in some cases the activity does not pose any problem. However, it can be a potential workplace hazard when a team member is required to handle very heavy loads, which could result in a back injury. The type of manual handling activity that needs to be assessed is defined in Regulation 68 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007:

“Manual Handling involves any transporting or supporting of any load by one or more employees, and includes lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving a load, which by reason of its characteristics or unfavourable ergonomic conditions, involves risk, particularly of back injury, to employees.”

The regulations outline the requirements that must be adhered to, which include:

* Carrying out a manual handling risk assessment of existing manual handling tasks before making an informed decision on what manual handling tasks need to be avoided or reduced.

* Organising tasks to allow the use of mechanical or other means to avoid or reduce the need for the manual handling of loads by employees in the workplace. The hazards can be avoided or reduced through the introduction of appropriate organisational measures, for example; improved layout of a work area to reduce unnecessary long carrying distances; or the use of appropriate means, in particular mechanical equipment.

* Providing instruction and training to relevant staff.

Manual handling training

Training can be adapted to reflect the duties performed from factory settings to restaurants and hotels.

A manual handling assessment can ensure the team know how to go about their duties in a safe and timely manner. Objects that are relatively light can still pose a risk of injury. This is especially the case if they haven’t had the right training.

Refresher training should be at intervals not more than every three years and when there is any major change in the work involved or equipment used or when a team member is transferred to another activity requiring different loads to be handled.

From an insurance perspective the evidence of manual handling training can be an invaluable document when defending a claim.

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The Irish investment market is pathetic

By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com    I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations. But over the last few weeks I […]

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By Michael O’Connor, theislandinvestor.com   

I lived abroad for years, so all the investment strategies I created were typically outside of Irish tax considerations.

But over the last few weeks I have been putting together several investment strategies for Irish-domiciled clients. It has been eye-opening, to say the least.

In short, most of the Irish market appears to be dominated by a handful of life insurance companies that offer ‘wrapped’ Multi Asset Funds. This means they offer a basket of stocks, bonds, property etc., all within one investment.

Irish Life’s MAPs 4 multi-asset fund states a standard annual management charge of 1.15%. A bit on the higher side for my liking, but this is still manageable.

But when you dig a little deeper, the KID documents (where all fees have to be fully disclosed as part of UCITS regulations) show the fee as 2.2%.

Double the quoted price

As an added bonus, they lock your money up for seven years, where an early encashment charge is waiting for those who wish to withdraw their money early. That’s right, they charge YOU for making your money inaccessible.

This lock-up period is a shrewd business tactic. An exit charge is an excellent way to ensure customers don’t leave when they realise how poor the performance is.

Too late, you’re trapped.

Performance

Fees become more digestible provided the performance is strong, but unfortunately, the misery continues.

The Irish Life MAPS 4 Portfolio has an annual return of 1.63% a year over the last five years. Granted, this was a challenging market climate to navigate, but falling below even the lowest expectations of inflation means that this fund has returned negative real returns after inflation over the last five years.

A similar 60/40 portfolio made up of passive index funds (S&P 500 and US T bonds) would have returned roughly 6.5% a year over the same period for a fee of roughly 0.1%.

We can go round and round in circles regarding the ‘risk adjusted’ approach and the added ‘diversification’ of the multi-asset fund versus the 60/40 portfolio I have shown. But the reality is much of this so-called diversification is over-engineering for an extra cost for many long term investors.

So, how can such pathetic offerings still exist in a system where low-cost operators such as De Giro are providing endless ETF options and commission-free trades that provide access to market returns at a fraction of the price?

Two reasons spring to mind

Firstly, the Irish retail investment scene is built on a financial broker commission system where unsuspecting customers are shoved into these products by ‘financial planners’ who receive kickbacks and commissions from these investment companies. You think you’re getting free investment advice; believe me, you’re not.

Second, the tax treatment of ETF structures is comical in Ireland, and US ETFs aren’t even an investment option. A 41% exit tax and an eight-year deemed disposal rule leaves investors stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Choose an overpriced, underperforming product that locks your money away for multiple years or choose the cheaper, better-performing product and suffer the tax consequences.

Bizarrely, investors are forced to make decisions based on preferential tax treatment rather than on the underlying investment’s merits.

I have gone into much more detail on the tax treatment and investment options in Ireland on my website. Just scan the QR code.

If you would like me to independently review your investment portfolio, just send me an email at mike@theislandinvestor.com.

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Property prices expected to rise by 2 percent this year

By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY It’s that time of year again where property reports on the year past are plentiful, with financial institutions, agencies and construction firms all analysing the past […]

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By Ted Healy of DNG TED HEALY

It’s that time of year again where property reports on the year past are plentiful, with financial institutions, agencies and construction firms all analysing the past 12 month’s activity and making predictions for the year ahead.

The latest report, from the Society of Chartered Surveyors (SCSI) has highlighted that in the final quarter of 2022, 40% of house sales were due to landlords exiting the market.

It suggests property prices are expected to rise by 2 percent this year, a considerable slowdown on the double-digit growth rates up to now which is likely to put a squeeze on house builders because construction costs are rising at more than 2 percent. This will directly impact on supply to the market.

The large numbers of buy-to-let properties being sold will not be replaced in the rental market, putting more pressure on rental costs.

The survey found that popular new three-bed semis remain out of the reach for a large number of first-time buyers on average salaries.

The trend of second-hand buy-to-let properties coming on the market was evident throughout 2022, but it ramped up in the last quarter of the year. While this may have helped to increase the number of properties available for sale – 66% of agents reported low stock levels this year – the lack of supply remains the dominant issue in the market.

The trend of private landlords exiting the market also has serious implications for the supply of rental properties. SCSI agents are reporting that the supply of available units to rent is at one of the lowest levels ever, and they do not believe the situation will improve in the short term.

“Almost 80% of agents surveyed are of the view that individual buy-to-let second-hand rental units being sold at present will not be replaced in the rental market in the next two years,” said John O’Sullivan of SCSI.

The survey found the three primary reasons for occupied residential units coming back on to the market for sale include the complex and restrictive nature of rent regulations, landlords finding compliance with rented housing standards too onerous, and net rental returns too low, according to the report.

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