Manual Handling in the Manufacturing Industry: Steps for Reducing Worker Injuries

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Workplace injuries are terribly common and one of the major causes is heavy lifting. But the number can be reduced! Simple tips can make a difference!

There is no question that musculoskeletal disorders account for the majority of workplace injuries and is, therefore, a common reason why workers end up taking a prolonged absence from work.

Firms such as Slater and Gordon are constantly handling personal injury claims on behalf of their clients and it is sometimes abundantly clear that some work-related injuries could have been avoided through better working practices and a more heightened awareness of the potential issues attached to lifting and handling items.

1. Fatigue and Injury

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The amount of man hours lost to work-related injuries exceeds 60 million days on an annual basis, and about 35 million days of productivity are lost each year as a result of injuries that resulted in a permanent disability and incapacity to work.

One of the fundamental causes of these injuries is not just when workers are exposed to a lack of proper health and safety practices, but when constant material handling results in a level of fatigue and injury.

The first course of action for responsible employers is to ensure that any worker who is expected to lift anything receives training on how to employ proper lifting techniques.

Understanding how to prevent injuries and appreciating the cumulative damage that poor lifting techniques can cause, as well as learning how to make full use of lifting aids and equipment, will all help to reduce the number of injuries.

2. Implementing an Ergonomic Program

Practicing good ergonomics at every opportunity should prove highly beneficial and provide a level of confidence and awareness in the workforce that can only help reduce the accident rate.

Stretching and preparing for a heavy lift is an integral part of any comprehensive ergonomic program, as is the need to test any load for stability and weight before any lift is attempted.

Employers also need to provide guidelines and advice on how to deal with loads that are unstable or too heavy to handle without the use of lifting equipment or further assistance.

Implementing an ergonomic program is just one aspect of good safety practices and will usually only be truly useful if other actions, like wearing the right clothing and footwear, are carried out at the same time.

3. Lifting Advice

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There are a number of basic steps that always need to be followed when attempting to lift anything.

It is often all too easy to underestimate the impact on your body when you lift an object incorrectly, no matter how light it appears to be. Never twist your body, step to one side or the other to turn, and always aim to keep the load as close to your body as possible.

The simple mechanics of following these steps and using your legs to push up and lift a load rather than your upper body or back are all pieces of advice that are fundamental and mostly common sense but are all tips and guidance that will help to prevent an injury.

Spinal injuries in the workplace are a major issue, which is why every worker who has to lift heavy loads at work, needs to know how to handle it the right way.

Have you ever had a workplace injury? Let us know in the comments section below...