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Strategies to reduce manual handling injuries

Posted on 1 January 2016
Strategies to reduce manual handling injuries

During the 2015 Health and Safety Week the regulator revealed that manual handling injuries accounted for 40% of WorkCover claims and that the average fully developed cost of a manual handling claim was estimated at $59,000. That is a lot of pain and a lot of money!

Manual handling refers to any activity requiring the use of force exerted by a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any object. Many of the jobs we all do will involve manual handling in some form.

To reduce the number of manual handling injuries we need to start by consulting with workers  - including Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) on effective control measures for hazardous manual handling tasks. These are traditionally tasks have any of the following characteristics

  • Repetitive or sustained force, movement or awkward posture
  • High force (to move or support any object that most people would find difficult because of the effort it requires)
  • Sustained vibration
  • Handling live people or animals
  • Handling loads that are unstable, unbalanced or difficult to grasp or hold

The aim is to either eliminate or control the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). An MSD is an injury, illness or disease arising in whole or part from manual handling in the workplace. It includes muscle sprains and strains, abdominal hernias, chronic pain etc.

When determining risk control measures the following factors need to be considered

  • Postures
  • Movements
  • Forces
  • Duration and frequency
  • Environmental conditions
  • Control measures need to be reviewed in the following instances
  • Work changes in any way
  • MSD or incidents are reported
  • HSR requests it
  • New information becomes available
  • If the risk is not controlled adequately

HAZCON has a team of experts able to assist you with every facet of managing manual handling eg policy and procedures, risk assessment, safe design, ergonomic workstation assessments and specific manual handling training. Let us help you to keep your workers healthy and safe from injury as well as making your business compliant.

Richard Forster - Principal HSE Consultant

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