Workers engaged in construction work are sometimes under the incorrect impression that if they rush and subsequently overexert themselves this will save time and increase production, but the truth is – reducing injuries increases production. And the best way to reduce injuries, increase production and save money is to encourage positive attitudes toward health and safety.
One of the most important ways of encouraging this positive attitude is by providing workers with appropriate training.
There are 2 types of training that will help in encouraging safe attitudes on construction sites, namely white card training, also known as general construction safety training and site specific safety.
One of the hazards that are commonly ignored or given little attention are musculoskeletal injuries. This is probably because these types of injuries usually do not disfigure or scar anyone but the injury can deteriorate over time.
Lifting is a particularly problematic method of manual handling however it is not the only one, pushing, pulling etc. can also contribute to manual handling injuries. Only lift, push or pull objects if it is absolutely necessary to do so and no other mechanical methods are available.
What’s in it for employers?
But why should employers promote good manual handling techniques? Other than the fact that it is your legal responsibility to provide workers with safe systems of work, it will also increase productivity and effectively affect your bottom line.
Other benefits include:
- Increased production and meet deadlines
- Stay within budget
- Improve work quality
- Reduce musculoskeletal injuries and discomfort in workers
- Lower absenteeism
There are some tips that can help employers and employees reduce manual handling injuries while engaging in construction work,
- It is important to utilise the right tools for the job. For example, use lag screws and sockets made for cordless drills to ratchet down bolts instead of using traditional hand ratcheting.
- Use tools with secondary handles to help distribute the force over both hands and arms.
- Use battery powered caulking guns to increase speed and reduce force.
- When working or cutting, use a sawhorse or workbench to reduce back bending. Use a truck tailgate, if necessary.
- Position work materials (for example, lumber, tools and rebar) close to the work location to reduce walking and carrying.
- 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 which incorporates the proper manual handling techniques.
- Practice bending your knees when lifting or pushing. Don’t stoop over an object being lifted. Use the strength of your legs.
- If possible keep your back straight and vertical to the ground. Keep your head up and looking straight ahead.
- Ask for help! Don’t lift loads beyond your capability – ask for the assistance of your co-workers instead or use mechanical means to transport goods.