Consequences of Poor Manual Handling

The problem of poor manual handling is often not given the attention it deserves because it seldom disfigures or maims anyone but the injuries it causes can be life long and affect a person’s quality of life. Long-term injuries can include damage to the spine and to joints. Short-term injuries include sprained ligaments or torn/strained muscles. Injuries most often result in back pain, muscle strain, joint injuries, hernias, stress fractures and spinal injuries.

Injuries often occur due to wear and tear, built up over time which cause stress on the body,such as the repetitive work of plastering or heavy lifting of bricklayers. These effects often become more disabling as workers age so workers often ignore them when they are occurring, during their youth.

Occupational Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations requireemployers and employees to work together to manage manualhandling risks. The legislation places duties on both employersand employees. As the employer has greater control over the wayin which the work is done, they also have a greater share of theresponsibility for managing the risk.Manual Handling legislation requires employers and employees to work together and communicate to identify and assess the risk ofinjury arising from manual handling activities at work.

First consider if it is absolutely necessary to manually life the load, consider if it can be lifted using mechanical means instead. Determine whether another worker will be able to assist you anticipate that the load is heavier than you can manage.

Manual handling is not just lifting and carrying loads but can include repetitive activities such as prolonged twisting, stooping, awkward or unbalanced postures, fixed, sustained, rigid, prolonged postures, unvaried, repetitive postures, handling or reaching away from the body, handling heavy or awkward loads or handling that goes on too long without a break.

If manual lifting cannot be avoided the following lifting techniques should be undertaken.

Before Lifting

  • Check the weight of the load
  • Check for awkward shape
  • Plan the route – remove any obstructions
  • Establish a firm grip

The Lift

  • Bend your knees
  • Keep the spine as straight as possible
  • Avoid twisting, jerking or over reaching
  • Establish a good balance
  • Keep the load close to your body
  • Use your body weight
  • If the load is heavy, seek assistance

Setting the object down

  • Keep the spine as straight as possible
  • Bend your knees if lowering the load
  • Avoid bending, twisting, over-reaching or jerking
  • Upon completion ensure the load is safely located

Remember you should only lift a load that you are physically able to carry, consider its height, weight and overall size before attempting to push, pull or lift it.

And most importantly employers must ensure workers on construction sites have received the necessary training. That includes both construction induction training as well as site specific training. General safety training in the form of the White Card course is a mandatory requirement for any person engaging in work on a construction site in Oz. Any worker can complete the course online for a nominal cost. Visit our homepage to find out more or to register.