How to avoid injury with manual handling
Manual handling is essential to many business operations, including construction, manufacturing, transportation, nursing and agriculture. Unfortunately, manual handling injuries are quite common, accounting for over a third of workplace injuries. As a result, employers have a legal responsibility to assess the risks of their operations and implement reasonable measures that ensure the health and safety of their staff.
Keep reading to learn more about manual handling and how you can avoid injury with manual handling.
What is manual handling?
Simply put, manual handling is the transportation or supporting of a load by hand or bodily force. It covers a broad range of tasks from operating machinery, lifting, pushing and pulling to carrying, moving, handling people or animals and repetitive tasks.
Poor manual handling techniques, such as lifting heavy objects in awkward postures, often result in injuries like strains, sprains, back injuries, musculoskeletal disorders and hernias. Although these injuries vary depending on the workplace, the list is infinite, increasing the need for proper manual handling.
What are the employer's duties under the manual handling regulations?
First, employers need to conduct a satisfactory assessment of the possible risk involved to staff when handling manual loads. This assessment needs to be specific to the level and types of risks employees might face. For instance, a construction site manager or owner should detail the potential hazards of lifting, moving and carrying site materials.
Next, employers are obligated to avoid or prevent employee manual handling injuries as much as possible based on the potential risk of injury. If this isn't possible, they're required to put in place measures that reduce the risk of injury. For example, they can provide frequent and comprehensive training on manual handling to update the competencies of their employees.
Employee's responsibilities in avoiding manual handling
Manual handling isn't just about employers. Employees are also required to take reasonable care of their health and safety and others that may be affected by their actions. You can achieve this by:
- Avoiding risky tasks as far as possible
- Making good use of health and safety equipment provided by your employer
- Informing your employer about any hazardous activities
- Adhering to health and safety protocols set in your workplace
- The use of safety signs
How can manual handling risks be reduced?
If you can't avoid or prevent manual handling risks altogether, you can reduce them by taking certain safety measures. For example, for any lifting or carrying activity:
• Remove obstacles from your path
• Get a good hold by keeping the load close to your body for as long as possible while lifting
• Keep your feet apart with one leg slightly forward and adopt a stable position before lifting
• For a long lift, rest the load midway on a surface such as a bench to change your grip
• While lifting, don't stretch your back out any further
• Once you've secured the load, keep your head up and look ahead
• Move smoothly to have more control
• Reduce carrying distances where possible
• Use signage to help you safely navigate around the site while carrying the load
Contact The Sign Shed today to get signage for keeping your workplace safer.