Manual Handling Article
You don't really understand the full importance of employee safety until you've spent three years working for a law firm. Every single lift job, every single time, I was asked if I thought I could handle the job. Extensive tools were provided to make all the manual labour easier and the extent of the safety precautions taken was mind boggling. Once, I tripped over a dolly that wasn't in use and I've never been so looked after in my life-it was a full week before they'd let me carry anything again for fear of injury.
About one-third of work-related injuries are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which are usually caused by incorrect manual handling techniques. One of the most common reasons employees take time off from work to recover from injury is sprained, strained, or torn muscles as a result of manual lifting. It doesn't matter whether you run a law firm, care home or a farm, manual handling is something most of your employees will encounter and if you aren't prepared there are serious risks involved for both the individual and the business. So how do you prepare?
1. Minimise the need for manual handling. Eliminating the hazard is the first step to take for any health and safety if it is reasonably practical to do so. Obviously, this is a lot easier in an office than a construction site and either way completely eliminating the need is virtually impossible. Still, when planning a project that will involve heavy lifting, always begin by asking the questions, "Is this completely necessary? Is there any part of this project that can be eliminated?"
2. Use tools to minimise the risk of manual handling. Don't let an employee lift what a dolly can easily handle. Machines carry risks as well, so be wary of these when considering what tools to invest in, but always be sure you are utilising the tools available to their full extent.
3. Dialogue with your employees. The obvious application is asking an employee what they can easily handle, but dialogue often includes asking an employee if they see any risks that you haven't noticed or if they can see an easier way of accomplishing a specific goal. Always be aware that many people will not want to admit that the load is too much for them, so some judgment on your part may be needed to stop them taking on something which may injure them.
4. Train your employees. This is the big one. You have a responsibility to your employees to watch out for their safety and provide manual handling training whilst employees also have some responsibility for looking after themselves. Training your workforce regularly in the safest way to accomplish manual handling is the best way to avoid such an injury in the workplace.
Sprains, tears, and back pain don't have to be a peril in your workplace. By doing your research on how to have a safe environment for your employees you can minimise the risk of injuries, protecting your business and your employees in the process.