Manual Handling

The various manual handling tasks that employees undertake during the course of a working day may well lead to a costly workers compensation claim. It is a fact that a high proportion of all workers compensation claims relate to musculoskeletal type injuries. No other area of Occupational Health and Safety has received more attention over the years then manual handling. The introduction of a wide variety of mechanical devices and the ongoing provision of on the job training has been the mainstay of the prevention strategies over this period of time.

It is a fact of life that the majority of employees undertake the majority of manual handling tasks without giving thought to the potential outcome of incorrect lifting can have on their well-being.

It is a fundamental aspect of any manual handling task, that it is not what we lift but what lifting techniques we use.

All tasks that involve physical stress or repetitive movement will have the highest potential of resulting in a manual handling injury.

It is also important to note that it is not just the weight of the object that needs to be considered in preventing an injury. Other aspects to consider include how often and how fast the task is performed or the age and physical capabilities of the employee.

Manual Handling injuries can result from frequent or prolonged incorrect manual handling or from a single incorrect lift resulting in an injury.

You should remember that your back has a 10 to 1 lifting ratio. This means that if you lift an object you are lifting weighs 12Kg then the pressure on your lower back will be 120Kg.

The strain on your lower back increases the further the object is away from the body. Whenever you lift always keep the load close to your body.

In assessing your manual handling activities we would advise that reference should be made to the Workcover manual handling code of practice, or the relevant standard.

In your review consider the following:

  • Minimal lift procedures have been introduced and procedures developed
  • Consider alternate methods of shifting the load
  • Provision of suitable mechanical equipment
  • All employees understand correct methods of manual handling
  • All staff have received appropriate training and understand the use of minimal lift techniques
  • Staff are consulted about manual handling policies and procedures
  • All manual handling activities are reviewed on a regular basis.
  • All manual handling injuries are investigated to identify contributing factors.

Remember it is not what you lift but how you lift that can result in a back related strain or long term injury.

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