PREVENTING MANUAL HANDLING INJURIES IN THE WORKPLACE How does manual handling result in injury? Injuries most commonly linked with manual handling include sprains, strains, damage to the back and hernias. Back injuries are the most common type of injury to the workplace in Australia. In general, manual handling injuries may result from: Gradual wear and tear caused by frequent or prolonged periods of continual activity Sudden damage caused by intense or strenuous manual handling or awkward lifts. Direct trauma caused by unexpected events (like trips and falls) Experience has shown that most manual handling injuries are associated with day to day tasks. This means an investigation into a manual handling injury must look at all relevant tasks the injured person usually performs. Report all incidents to your Manager and to the Safety Manager/ Safety Co-ordinator. ______________________ Risk Factors in Manual Handling The weight of the object is not the only risk factor. Factors that can increase the risk of injury include: Size, shape and weight of the objects (if carried or held) and forces required (if pushed, pulled or restrained); Sudden unexpected or jarring movements; Awkward movement's, such as twisting, bending, over-reaching, especially if combined with load handling; Static postures, like holding the body or part of the body for a long time Personal factors like age, physical dimensions and any disabilities the person may have. These factors are influenced by: How long or often the tasks are performed The way the work is organised, such as one employee performing all manual handling tasks instead of tasks being shared by several employees. Design and layout of work environment and The degree of familiarity with the tasks and associated training. Preventing Manual Handling Injuries Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Regulation 3.4 states that manual handling tasks must be identified, their risks assessed and consideration be given to controlling these risks. The Manual Handling Code of Practice (CoP) explains how to implement Reg. 3.4 by applying the Three step process /approach for manual handling risk management. 1. Hazard Identification 2. Risk Assessment 3. Risk Control Further details regarding this process are outlined in this code. This will be discussed with relevant supervisors and managers at a later stage. How to lift and carry safely When you lift and carry the wrong way, you could injury yourself. Whether you are lifting at home or at work, make an effort to take care of your back. Where possible use mechanical lifting devices to assist you – trolleys, forklift, pallet trolleys. The National Safety Council of Australia recommends the following safety tips: Protect your hands and feet by wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE). Size up the load – slowly tip it on its side to see if you can carry it comfortably. Try to push the load gently your foot (while wearing safety shoes). If it is too difficult to move, it is too heavy to lift by yourself. Get someone to help or use a lifting aid. Always get help if the load is too big or bulky for one person. Check for nails splinters, rough strapping and sharp edges. Lift it properly: Make sure your footing is solid. Keep your back straight (no curving or slouching). Centre your body over your feet. Get a good grip on the object and keep the load close to you. Pull your stomach in firmly / tighten your stomach muscles. Lift with your legs If you need to turn, move your feet NOTE: Do not twist your back while lifting. Do not lift in a seated position. When lifting different loads: Oversized loads: Do not try to carry a big load alone; ask for help Work as a team by lifting, walking and lowering the load together. Let one person call the shots and direct the lift. Use proper mechanical lifting devices for heavy loads. High loads: Use a forklift to reach loads that are above your shoulders. (At home use a ladder or step stool) If you are going to physically lift smaller objects, get as close to the load as you can and slide the load towards you, then try to support it. Do the work with your arms and legs (not your back). Low loads Loads that are under racks and cabinets need extra care. Pull the loads towards you, then try to support with one knee before you lift. Use your legs to power the lift. Always use your stomach as a low back support by pulling it in during lifting. Remember that a strong, healthy, powerful back is vital to your job. It also helps you enjoy life. Take pains to avoid injuries by making it a full-time job to take care of your back!