When it comes to workplace injuries, manual handling causes more than 33% of them. Manual handling involves the lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing and carrying of items and if these are not done correctly, it increases the risk of injury.
The Importance of Dealing With Manual Handling Correctly
Injuries caused by incorrect manual handling can cause problems for employers but also long term problems for employees. They can occur at any time and in any place in the workplace and are caused by repetitive movements, heavy labour and awkward postures.
What to Consider
It is recommended that heavy lifting is avoided but where this is not possible, it is important to take the right steps. This means assessing the risk and ensuring that there are health and safety measures in place to help prevent and avoid injury.
If You Are Required Undertake Manual Lifting
There are some things to think about should you be unable to avoid manual lifting. This includes:
- Limit the amount of reaching, stooping and twisting
- Try and avoid lifting from the ground or from above shoulder height
- Make changes to storage areas to help reduce these movements and to minimise the distances items need to be carried
- Carry out an assessment of the load to determine if the worker can carry it or needs assistance.
The Right Technique For Lifting
If you do have to lift heavy items, the right technique will ensure you reduce the risk of injury. To do this, you will need to do the following:
Consider What You Are Lifting – Make sure you plan how you will lift and where it will be placed. Make sure you remove any obstructions and think about resting the item halfway to readjust your grip and have a rest.
Good Stability – Your feet should be apart with one leg slightly in front of the other to assist with balance.
A Good Grip – The grip is important while the load should be hugged close to the body as this can prove more effective than gripping it with your hands.
Begin With the Right Posture – You should avoid flexing the back from the hips and instead should slightly bend the back, hips and knees
Keep The Weight Close To You – When lifting, keep the weight close to your body. The heaviest side of the load should be placed in contact with the body.
Avoid Flexing the Back – Before you begin to raise the load, the legs can straighten which can cause you to flex the back but this should be avoided.
Keep Everything Level – Your shoulders should remain level and they should face the same direction as the hips. Avoid leaning and use your feet to turn instead of twisting.
Look Ahead – The head should remain upright while lifting and not looking down at the weight.
Smooth Movements – Do not snatch the load or jerk it as this can cause you to lose control and can lead to injury.
Lift What is Manageable – You have to lift a weight that is safe and not the maximum that you can actually lift. There is a difference between the two.
Where possible, you should use the correct equipment to lift heavy weights such as the IFC’s Hoseload System. The supportive frame removes the need for manual handling and that helps to reduce the risk of injury.