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Manual handling safely

Hazardous manual handling is one of the main causes of workplace injuries and covers a wide range of activities when you use force to lift, push, pull, hold, restrain, throw or carry something. When doing work that involves manual handling such as carrying materials, using hand-tools, assembling, or operating machinery and equipment you could be exposed, either suddenly or over time, to the risk of serious injury or illness.

These injuries can be debilitating, long-term and severely affect your quality of life, which may prevent you from enjoying activities such as sport, family life or hobbies. Some of the injuries which have occurred as a result of hazardous manual handling, known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), include:

  • sprains and strains
  • back injuries
  • soft-tissue injuries to wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs
  • soft-tissue hernias
  • chronic pain.

Not all manual handling tasks are hazardous, but because most jobs involve some form of manual handling, you may be at risk of manual handling injury due to performing a hazardous manual task which involves one or more of the following:

  • repetitive or sustained force
  • high or sudden force
  • repetitive movement
  • sustained or awkward posture
  • exposure to vibration.

Good posture and lifting techniques can help reduce the risks, but making changes to workplace design is the most effective way to prevent manual handling injury.

What do you need to know?

  • Where possible, perform the job without using hazardous manual tasks
  • Always assess the task before you start lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying anything by taking into consideration it’s weight and shape, position and distance to be moved, any potential obstacles in your path, availability of mechanical aid or other help if needed
  • Where possible, change the workplace layout, the workplace environment or the system of work i.e. instead of carrying a load use a trolley or wheelbarrow
  • Change the things used in the hazardous manual handling, such as:
    • replacing heavy items with those that are lighter, smaller and/or easier to handle
    • replacing hand tools with power tools to reduce the level of force required to do the task.
  • Use mechanical lifting aids for awkward, heavy or repetitive lifts
  • Rotate between different tasks so that you’re not continually performing the same exertions and movements
  • Always seek assistance or guidance with any hazardous manual task which could be harmful.

To help keep your worksite safe, contact HIA's Safety Services team.

Enquire now

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