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If you think you know your employees have the best training in manual handling, you may think again. Workplace injury and ill health costs Ireland €3.2 billion per year.
Manual Handling is a physical activity that takes place in every workplace, and in some cases the activity does not pose a problem. However it can be a potential workplace hazard when an employee for example is required to handle heavy loads, which could result in a back injury.
The Health and Safety Executive estimate that MSDs (Musculoskeletal Disorders) affect around one million workers per year.
You should also note that manual lifting training should involve more than safe lifting techniques because employees should only have to be lifting things manually when no other alternative is available.
Safe lifting practices are widely taught in workplaces, but do your employees know that they shouldn’t be lifting equipment when alternative options are available?
Chances are that if a lot of manual lifting is involved in your business; you will have some tools available to assist.
Whether it’s a forklift or a manual pull trolley, they’re there to serve a purpose. Not just to make the workplace look professional and pass a health and safety inspection.
Employees should know every tool you have available and be trained in their proper usage.
It’s not just enough to tell warehouse staff to load the pallet, shrink wrap it and use the hand pallet truck to move the stock to the dispatch bay or any other area your business uses.
For pallet trucks, employees should know how to safely lift and lower products to load the pallet, and when transporting using the pallet truck, they should not be pushing.
To minimize the risk of injury, the correct pulling technique needs to be used as well. Just because the heavy lifting is done, workers are not out of the woods.
When pulling pallet trucks, the work should be done by using the legs and lower body. The weight load should never be so much that workers have to manipulate their body posture to use their upper body to pull the weight.
The easiest way to do that is to provide the correct and best tools to get the job done easier.
That extends to having the correct working height and the safe use of ladders to reach higher storage areas, and minimize lifting any objects overhead.
One thing all work areas should have, are visual aids. They serve as a visual reminder of safe working practices, forcing employees to think before they act.
Preventing injuring from occurring due to improper manual handling
The simplest way to prevent manual handling injuries from occurring is to recognise when it is happening.
The very first step would be to ensure that your health and safety officer knows what to be on the lookout for when monitoring staff.
Take a walk through your workplace and see what your employees are doing when they are lifting things. You might be surprised.
Employees are consistently under pressure to meet production targets or get whatever else it is they have on their work schedule completed. To complete all their duties, they are likely to be breaking a few of the health and safety best practices.
If your employees are in the habit of this, you’ll be able to quickly see with a flick through the accident log book.
If there’s a high occurrence of the same type of injuries, such as sprained wrists, back pain, or strains, then it’s likely you’ll need to remind people of their responsibilities to their own personal safety.
TC Ireland Team