Lifting operations at work: how to avoid injury
How to avoid injury when lifting
Unfortunately, no matter how many instructions are given in training or afterward, lifting injuries are still commonplace in warehouses and workplaces up and down the country. Incorrect lifting can seriously damage the neck and back, and if staff bite off more than they can chew, valuable stock can also be broken or put at risk. As an employer, it is your responsibility to train and direct staff in the correct practice of lifting, and if accidents happen without this training, then it is just as much your fault as the relevant staff members’.
Keep a straight back
This is something of a “classic” in the lifting safety sphere, but it is critical that staff members keep their backs straight and don’t lift with them. Backs aren’t designed to take a great deal of weight, and vertebrae are temperamental, to say the least: if weight is transferred to the spine then it will no doubt become hurt. Keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
Distribute the load
If your staff are in any doubt whatsoever about whether something is too heavy, then it probably is. Ensure that they share the load – whatever the situation or time constraints, extra trips are far more preferable to hurt staff or damaged stock.
Use tools and machinery
If your workplace has the tools or vehicles to assist in the moving of heavy boxes, then ensure that your staff use them wherever they need to. There can be a lot of heroics where heavy lifting is involved, and loading boxes onto trolleys or forklifts may be time-consuming, but they are there to help, and help they do.
Correct practice and signage
Of utmost importance here – more so than any individual technique – is good training, signage, and workplace practice. If you have the signage in your warehouse or workplace to reinforce the practices learned in your staff’s training, then they will be reminded day-to-day of the correct methods of heavy lifting, loading or unloading. Warning signs for hazards, risks and other safety issues are also an excellent way to keep staff from being complacent in the workplace, and to not display them shows a complacency from the management. Ensure that your warehouse is well signed today and that your staff are kept safe.
For more information on manual handling techniques, visit the HSE website and download their Manual Handling at Work Guide.