Reduce Staff Sickies by 33%
Guest Post by Russ Stephens
He was being shown a video covering….How to lift a box!
But that’s not all, next he had to demonstrate that he had understood the instruction by performing it in front of an assessor (AKA Brenda from Human Resource)
Unbelievable! The world has gone mad.
I’m looking at these two thinking how much money this is costing me with no productive work being done.
But, I was wrong. Brenda was right.
Did you know, one in three injuries to Australian workers are caused by manual handling, with inexperienced workers at greatest risk.
Wow, I never realised it was so complicated! But the facts do not lie. How many sick days have been racked up by your employees so far this year?
It’s cost that all business owners in Australia have to cover, but can it be reduced? How much would it add to your bottom line if you could improve productivity through a reduction in absenteeism?
Manual handling injuries are not limited to those sustained by lifting or carrying heavy loads. A person can be injured when handling objects in a variety of ways including pulling, pushing, holding or restraining. The object can be anything from an animal to a piece of equipment.
Good posture and lifting techniques can help reduce the risks, but research indicates that making changes to workplace design is the most effective way to prevent manual handling injury.
Identifying the hazards
Some factors in the workplace may increase the risk of an injury occurring. These hazards can be identified in different ways:
• Walk through the workplace and look for potential hazards.
• Talk over risk factors with workers.
• Check through injury records to help pinpoint recurring problems.
• Regularly monitor and update risk identification.
Assessing the risks
The next step is to assess which factors are contributing to the risk of injury.
Typical risk factors include:
• Type of work – working in a fixed posture for a prolonged period of time can increase the risk of injury.
• Layout of the workspace – a cramped or poorly designed workspace can increase the risk of injury by forcing people to assume awkward postures, such as bending or twisting.
• Weight of an object – a heavy load may be difficult to lift and carry and can increase the risk of injury.
• Location of an object – heavy objects that have to be lifted awkwardly, for example above shoulder height or from below knee level, can increase the risk of injury.
• Duration and frequency – increasing the number of times an object is handled or the length of time for which it is handled can increase the chance of injury.
• Condition of an object – more effort may be required to manipulate badly designed or poorly maintained equipment
• Awkward loads – loads that are difficult to grasp, slippery or an awkward shape can increase the risk of injury.
• Handling a live person or animal – lifting or restraining a person or animal can cause sprains and other injuries.
Reducing or eliminating the risk
After identifying workplace hazards and controlling the risks, you can do several things to reduce the risk of manual handling injuries. These tips can help reduce injury at home as well as at work.
Safety suggestions include:
• Change the task – does this task need to be carried out? If so, does it have to be done this way?
• Change the object – for example, repack a heavy load into smaller parcels.
• Change the workspace – for example, use ergonomic furniture and make sure work benches are at optimum heights to limit bending or stretching.
• Use mechanical aids – like wheelbarrows, conveyor belts, cranes or forklifts.
• Change the nature of the work – for example, offer frequent breaks or the chance to do different tasks.
• Offer proper training – inexperienced workers are more likely to be injured.
Protecting your back
The back is particularly vulnerable to manual handling injuries. Safety suggestions include:
• Warm up cold muscles with gentle stretches before engaging in any manual work.
• Lift and carry heavy loads correctly by keeping the load close to the body and lifting with the thigh muscles.
• Never attempt to lift or carry loads if you think they are too heavy.
• Pushing a load (using your body weight to assist) will be less stressful on your body than pulling a load.
• Use mechanical aids or get help to lift or carry a heavy load whenever possible.
• Organise the work area to reduce the amount of bending, twisting and stretching required.
• Take frequent breaks.
• Cool down after heavy work with gentle, sustained stretches.
• Exercise regularly to strengthen muscles and ligaments.
• Lose any excess body fat to improve fitness.
Manual Handling & Lifting SWMS
It’s much easier to start with someone else’s work and amend it to suit your own situation rather than starting from scratch.
If you would like to take a peek at a professionally written document that will help you to produce your own Safe work Method Procedure for Manual Handling and Lifting, follow the link below.