21st November, 2012
Manual handling might not seem high risk, but it is actually one of the most common causes of workplace injuries. The importance of safe manual handling techniques can therefore mean the difference between a productive day at work or being off work with a bad back!
Manual handling is an everyday task in most workplaces, whether you are filing paper work in the office, stacking shelves in a shop, or bricklaying on site.
Goods and materials, tools and equipment, all have to be moved, lifted and carried throughout the day.
While work involving heavy manual labour such as construction work is higher risk, it is not always what you carry but how you carry that matters.
Awkward postures, poor lifting techniques, and failing to route plan will all increase the risk of injury during manual handling tasks.
Safe manual handling techniques tend to focus on the initial lift, and it is important to get this stage of the process right. Bent legs, straight back, load close to the body, avoiding strain on the muscles of the back.
However, safe manual handling should not stop there, it is important to also consider what your carrying, and where you are carrying it to.
For example, heaviest side of the load should be closest to your body to minimise strain when carrying, and you should grip the load with your palms, rather than your fingers.
Safe manual handling techniques are important because the right technique can significantly reduce the risk of injury.
That’s not to say that the right technique alone means that any handling challenge can be taken without risk to health, work is not a weight lifting competition!
Did you know manual handling accounts for around a third of workplace injuries?
Remember to ensure that a manual handling risk assessment is completed before you start the task, to make sure that you don’t need a team lift, or mechanical aid.
Don’t wait for an injury to occur before taking action, learn the correct lifting and carrying techniques, and understand the risks and precautions needed when handling loads.
If your work involves regular manual handling, you should be trained in safe manual handling techniques as part of your employment.