By definition manual handling is the act of pushing, pulling, or using other bodily force to lift and carry loads.
Many businesses require their workers to perform some kind of manual handling. From retail workers stacking shelves to factory workers assembling products on conveyor belts. Whatever the task, if it is performed poorly, incorrectly, or for too long – it can pose a risk of injury.
The most common types of injury are lower back pains, neck pain, and problems with shoulders and arms – including forearm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. These injuries can result from lifting a heavy or unbalanced load only once, or from continually lifting a heavy or unbalanced load. Sometimes these injuries lead to permanent disability and expensive compensation claims.
You can reduce disruption to your business by reviewing the tasks your employees do manually and working out how to best avoid injuries.
Regardless of what industry you are involved in, many businesses require their workers to do manual handling tasks that are potentially harmful. Even remaining stationary for long periods of time can result in short or long-term injury.
Some examples of manual handling tasks include:
Understanding the type of manual handling required in the workplace, and the effect it has on the human body can go a long way to preventing injury.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are the most common type of injury and disease that occurs due to manual handling. These are injuries which affect the musculoskeletal system (i.e. bones of the skeleton, ligaments, joints and cartilage) and restrict movement of the human body.
Depending on the activity that leads to the injury, MSD can occur in the form of:
Employers have a duty to reduce manual handling wherever possible or lower the risks of manual handling as much as possible.
To help you comply with Work Health and Safety guidelines and reduce the risk of injury, Employsure has created an e-guide for business owners to help protect their employees and their business. You can access it here.
Teaching your employees how to correctly perform manual tasks is an effective way to prevent injuries and avoid expensive claims.
There are many private training organisations that offer face-to-face training at your chosen location and convenient online courses to suit your needs. By professionally training your workers on proper manual handling techniques, they will learn how to:
In some cases, you may not need formal training to identify and manage a risk. Introducing mechanical aids or making small changes to work processes or procedures can go a long way to minimising risks.
The weight of the load is critical but also important is the frequency of lifting, posture while lifting, the surrounding environment and the employee’s physical fitness. When you assess any manual handling, always consider the task, individual, load, and environment.
You should also have manual handling posters around the workplace to inform employees on how to perform certain tasks correctly. And make sure your employees always follow the operating instructions and limitations set by the manufacturer of any products or equipment they are handling.
Employees who become sick or injured due to work are, in most circumstances, entitled to compensation.
Employers have an obligation to help sick and injured employees gain access to the advice, guidance, and financial support they need to recover and, where possible, return to work safely.
Compensation claim payouts are given to employees in one of three ways:
Each state and territory has its own regulations when it comes to workers compensation. Therefore, how and where you go to submit a workers compensation claim, and the amount of money the employee can expect to receive, will depend on the relevant state and territory.