Manual handling occurs in almost all working environments. Whether it’s construction, hotel management, or agriculture, employees in a multitude of industries are exposed to heavy loads. Manual handling techniques include the transporting or supporting of a load by one or more workers. It could include anything from lifting heavy packages, pushing carts, or handling construction material.
Several workplace hazards increase the risk of injury. These include loads that are too large or too heavy and tasks that are too strenuous. Keep reading to find out about all the possible hazards and injuries that can occur due to manual handling.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over a third of workplace injuries occur during manual handling. This can be anything involving heavy lifting, carrying loads and objects (especially heavy ones), lowering, pulling, or pushing – all of which are pretty common in most industries. Manual handling gives employees the skills to safely undertake manual tasks. This reduces the risk of injury in the workplace.
What are Manual Handling Hazards?
Manual handling hazards are events or circumstances that can lead to injury. While the actual hazards are specifically related to what manual handling you are doing, here are some of the most common types of hazards:
1. Lifting heavy objects
This is one of the most common hazards. This leads to strain on the joints and muscles which ultimately causes work-related musculoskeletal disorders. When lifting heavy objects, employees should ask for assistance or use the right lifting tools.
2. Repetitive movements
Repetitive movements are also considered one of many hazards. It causes strain on the joints and muscles and leads to injuries such as tendonitis. As employees are required to perform the same tasks, they should take breaks and stretch their muscles to avoid strain.
3. Poor Posture
Poor posture is also a workplace design hazard. It causes musculoskeletal disorders MSDS that result from back, neck, and shoulder pain. To avoid this, employees should maintain good posture when lifting objects.
4. Slips, Trips & Falls
According to research information provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), slips, trips and falls are the most common cause of non-fatal injuries in the workplace. Injuries that result from these types of accidents include musculoskeletal disorders and back injuries.
Common Manual Handling Injuries
While you could imagine that manual handling injuries occur due to dramatic events such as falling from ladders, something as simple as tripping on a box, using the wrong lifting techniques, working with heavy tools, and being in awkward postures could also be detrimental.
Granted, most manual handling injuries are not fatal, but research shows that when hazards in the workplace are not properly addressed, then they can result in serious injuries. Hazardous manual handling can also result in these common injuries:
Muscular sprains and strains occur when muscular tissues are stretched beyond their common capacity.
Trapped nerve that occurs in the back as a result of another injury but is aggravated by manual handling .
Hernia is a rupture of the body cavity wall in the lower abdomen.
Cuts, bruising and abrasions occur when the body comes in contact with unprotected sharp objects.
Fractures of the feet that occur when dropping loads.
Musculoskeletal disorders are injuries that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, and blood vessels. An example of a musculoskeletal disorder is the rotator cuff, which affects the movement of the shoulder.
How to Prevent Manual Handling Injuries & Hazards
Manual handling hazards can be a bone of contention in the workplace. Any job performed without efficient risk assessment and training can include risk and cause workplace injuries. So what’s the best way to ensure health and safety in the workplace?
1. Risk Assessment for Hazardous Manual Tasks
Employers are required to carry out health and safety assessments in manual handling. This is a careful examination of what could cause harm to the employees.
With the help of a safety representative, conduct a manual handling risk assessment which will help employers identify potentially dangerous situations and put control measures in place. Storage areas and areas where objects are transferred should be focal points when preventing manual handling risk.
2. Manual Handling Training
One of the best ways to prevent risk is to ensure all staff has adequate training on manual handling hazards and injuries. With this information, all employees will be well-equipped to prevent injuries.
Specialised manual handling training is aimed at teaching employees about hazards in the workplace. They will learn how to prevent injuries, without risk to the health and safety of the workforce. It equally instructs them on what to do in carrying out risk controls.
One of the best ways to conduct manual handling training is through a blended delivery approach, a method of learning that integrates technology and in-person training. This strategy advises them on the proper control measures to put in place and allows them to practice the actions to be taken in real-life situations.
By contacting an online course provider and advocating for blended learning, employees can have access to training materials when required. The freedom to go through the online training content at their own pace (but with management’s guidance) will not only enhance the quality of learning but also help reduce manual handling hazards and injuries in the workplace.