Creating safer working environments, A new approach to manual handling training

Manual handling has long been regarded as the most significant contributor to occupational injury in Australia and throughout the world.
Manual handling can be defined as any activity requiring the exertion of force to lift, lower, push, pull, carry, move, and hold or restrain an object or people or animals. It includes repetitive tasks and operating machinery and equipment.1

Industries have invested heavily in attempting to reduce or eliminate hazardous manual handling activity as part of a work task or job role which can result in serious and debilitating musculoskeletal injury, time off work and significant cost in terms of medical treatment and lost productivity.

A review of workplace injury statistics shows manual handling injuries account for the highest costs and the largest proportion of all workers compensation claims in Australia. In Victoria alone, manual handling accounted for over 10,000 workplace injuries last year with claim costs exceeding $1 billion.2

Employers have a legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for all employees. The national standard for manual handling requires that all workplace tasks, which involve manual handling, are identified and that the risk or likelihood of injury is assessed and controlled. Control measures must be suitable and practical. For the employer, it is important to consider a range of different control measures some of which might include:

  • Conducting a manual handling risk assessment and re-designing the task or load to reduce the occupational risk
  • Providing training in manual handling practice with a focus on particular high risk handling tasks
  • Introducing safe work procedures and systems such as team lifting
  • Providing mechanical handling devices such as hoists or trolleys to eliminate manual handling

There is no evidence to suggest that any one control measure is effective in isolation in terms of reducing the risk of manual handling injury. Most of the research supports the combination of education and training with the provision of mechanical aids or equipment to reduce the frequency of manual handling, and re-designing the job role or task to reduce the risk of manual handling injury.

Konekt has developed a comprehensive range of manual handling products and services, aligned with best practice principles and recognised control measures available to employers in minimising the risk of manual handling injury. The suite of products and services can be used in isolation or as components of a broader manual handling risk management program.

Manual Handling Risk Assessments

The manual handling risk assessment will determine if effective control measures are in place to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury.

During the manual handling risk assessment, Konekt will identify hazards, determine the magnitude of risk posed by these hazards, and make recommendations for managing these risks.

Manual Handling Training

In cases where it is determined that risk can be mitigated by improving manual handling practices, Konekt can design training programs to suit your requirements. The manual handling training can occur with an individual at induction; regular refresher programs can be conducted on-site for small groups incorporating task specific training, supervisor/management training can be provided to promote a whole company approach to up-skill senior management in identifying and managing manual handling risk.

For more detail information about Konekt’s manual handling programs contact your local Konekt office.

References

  1. Victorian WorkCover Authority 2000, ‘Code of Practice for Manual Handling’, Number 25, 20 April.
  2. Dunckley, M 2013, ‘Rising claims hit Victorian WorkCover’, Financial Review. 20 March.

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