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To control manual handling injuries, many employers fall into the trap of simply buying a product or aid such as a trolley, back brace or gloves in order to control the manual handling risk. Although manual handling aids and products can definitely alleviate the risk, it's important to take a systematic approach. Safe Work Australia's National Standard for Manual Handling and National Code of Practice requires employers to identify, assess and control the risks arising from manual handling.


Step 1 - Identify Risks

Manual handling tasks that are likely to be hazardous to an employee's health should be identified. Some of the most effective ways to identify these risks involves:

  • Checking workplace injury records - Injury records are a great way to spot problem areas within a work area

  • Talking to employees and their health and safety representatives (HSRs) - The employee actually carrying out the task may have a better idea than management about the issues and problems they face on a daily basis

  • Looking at the workplace - A simple walk through the area is a good way to identify risks. A simple checklist will make your walk through more effective. Download Setons Workplace Safety Checklist now


Step 2 - Assess Risks

Once risky manual handling tasks have been identified, employers should drill down and find the root cause of the risk. The following areas are a great starting point:

  • Workplace and workstation layout - Try and reduce bending, reaching or twisting. Arrange workstation so that manual handling tasks can be eliminated or carried out at waist level.

  • Working position and posture - Try and reduce the amount of time that a worker spends in the same position or posture

  • Duration and frequency of manual handling - Injury increases as a manual handling task is done more often or for longer periods of time

  • Where the load is and how far it has to be moved - Statistics show that there is an increased risk whenever a load is below mid-thigh height or above shoulder level. In addition, if a load has to be carried long distances or placed accurately there is increased risk of injury.

  • Weight - Usually the heavier the object the greater risk of injury during manual handling.

  • Force - The greater the force required to push, pull or restrain increases the risk of injury

  • Characteristics of loads and equipment - Bulky loads or faulty equipment may force a worker to carry out awkward movements

  • Work organisation - Staff shortages and unrealistic deadlines increase the risk of injury

  • Work environment - Poor lighting, extremes of climate and limited space can all contribute to risk of injury

  • Skills and experience, age - Employee attributes such as skills, training and age play a role. Workers under 18 are at greatest risk because they are still developing

  • Clothing - Inappropriate clothing (ties, long sleeves in some cases) for manual handling tasks can get caught on objects and in machinery

  • Special Needs - Employees returning from an illness may need time to rebuild their skills and abilities


Step 3 - Control The Risks

It is important to go through the previous two steps for the long-term safety of your workplace. It may be easy to identify the risk but the best way to make manual handling safer is to redesign the task or workplace using the following methods:

  • Modify the object - You may need to change the shape of bulky objects so that they are easier to hold, pack or move

  • Modify workplace and workstation layout - Reduce reaching or stooping and provide work surfaces at the correct height

  • Change the way things are moved - Eliminate unnecessary handling. Lifting aids or devices may help with this. See Seton's range of Manual Handling aids

  • Use different actions, movements and forces - Reduce bending, lifting, twisting, reaching and holding among staff

  • Modify the task - Modify the task by using tools such as levers, hooks or crowbars for example. See Seton's range of Manual Handling aids

  • Ongoing evaluation - Ongoing evaluation is an important part of the risk control process to identify change or further requirements

Contact Seton today for a safety solution suitable to your business requirements.

DISCLAIMER: All the information provided on this page are guides only.

Source: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au

Posted in Premise Safety By

Pattie Dineros