Manual handling operations mean any transportation or support of a load. It involves many activities like lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, restraining, throwing, and carrying. Manual Handling might not look like something that poses a risk in a workplace. But, in reality, it is the root cause of most common workplace injuries. In many lines of work, workers are often required to lift things far heavier than usual carrying objects. Improper lifting techniques with heavy objects can result in unwanted injuries to the worker. Thus, it is important to understand safe manual handling techniques and their importance. In this article, we will cover them.
Importance of safe manual Handling
An employer should always provide their staff with a safe work environment, making life as safe and easy as possible. To do so, the firm must always want to give workers the proper training and techniques for moving things. Thus, the easiest way to understand the importance of manual handling is to conclude that it prevents workplace accidents. Another vital thing to consider with poor manual handling techniques is that even though the effect would not be visible in early life, later on in old age, it causes back and other types of unbearable pain. As manual handling injuries can have severe implications for the business. It is important to understand the importance of safe manual Handling. Here are some of the key points that showcase the importance of secure manual handling:
· Prevention of injuries
Safe manual handling techniques’ primary importance is that they prevent workplace injuries. When performing manual handling activities like lifting, pushing, or carrying, there is always are higher chance of sustaining injury. Proper safe manual handling measures will reduce the chance of employees suffering from injury. The injuries caused by improper manual Handling are of three different types:
– Short-term injuries: These injuries pose a minor threat, like cuts, bruises, sprains, and minor fractures. It is usually caused due to unexpected incidents like losing grip and dropping a load. The effects of such injuries are inflammation, pain, and back or joint problems.
– Long-term injuries: These include damage to the musculoskeletal system of a person. Musculoskeletal injuries include muscle, tendon, bone, joint, ligament, and nerve injuries.
– Mental health issues: This is more like a psychological effect than a visible injury. Workplace accidents often cause mental health issues for workers. Mental health issues include stress, anxiety, and depression.
· Improving productivity
It is factual that a worker who had been recently injured would have to go through a period of rest, usually weeks or a month. This leads to lost days which impacts the productivity and output of a business. A workplace where more workers suffer from injuries would result in more loss of working days. Thus, by benefiting from implying safe manual handling techniques, a firm can prevent these lost working days. Ultimately increasing the productivity and output of a firm. This also gives the firm an advantage over its competitors.
· Compliance with legislation
Although, no law states that implementing safety measures such as safe manual handling techniques is mandatory for an organization. Employers can ensure compliance with the law and avoid costly legal issues by prioritizing safe manual handling techniques. But, it is a must that the firms provide their employees with a safe working environment. Failure to do so can create problems for the business, such as legal fines and sanctions.
· Reduced costs
Safe manual handling techniques would allow the firm to reduce the cost related to the worker’s injury. A firm is most responsible for paying the injured worker’s medical fees. Such as compensation claims and medical expenses, also keeping in mind the cost of loss in productivity. Promoting a safe working culture would help the firm bear fewer costs and reduce expenses.
· Promotion of positive safety culture
Safe manual handling techniques are a fundamental aspect of workplace safety. Employers can promote a positive safety culture by prioritizing safe manual handling practices. Boosting morale, fostering loyalty, and improving employee retention rates are key benefits of promoting a positive safety culture.
· Improved employee health and wellbeing
As we all know, by prioritizing safe manual handling techniques, a firm can prevent its workers from sustaining unwanted injuries. These injuries range from short-term, such as cuts, to long terms, such as fractures. Maintaining an injury-free and healthy environment would promote a positive safety culture that values the health and well-being of employees. Leading to improved job satisfaction and overall quality of life.
Proper techniques for lifting and carrying
Assessing the load: Before performing any manual handling task, you must determine the object first. It is crucial to analyse its weight, size, and shape. Decide whether the thing is too heavy to carry alone or requires assistance.
- Adopt a stable posture: Standing close to the object, ensuring your feet are in the correct position. Making sure that you bend your knees while keeping your back straight. This vital step prevents injuries such as back pain or muscle strains.
- Getting a good grip: Where possible, the load should be held closely to your body. This will allow you to get a better grip on your hands.
- Keep the object close: If carrying it solely, keep it close to yourself. This would allow you to keep a table position while performing the tasks.
- Avoid twisting the back or leaning sideways: Your shoulders should be level and facing in the same direction as the hips.
- Take breaks: Carrying heavy loads can be tiring. You must take a break and stretch your muscle after performing manual lifting.
- Using lifting aids: When necessary, you should use a lifting aid to ease your task. Such lifting resource includes carts, dollies, or forklifts. This reduces the risk of injuries and makes the job more manageable.
- Team lifting: Work should be done as a team when handling heavy or awkwardly shaped items. This would help distribute the load and avoid injury.
- Refrain from rushing: You should never rush while lifting or carrying objects. Taking the time and proceeding with care is the most sensible way to perform such tasks.
Manual handling training: A important factor
Any type of manual handling activity at a workplace requires proper training. We, humans, are not perfect and have limited knowledge. One mistake, a person can do to himself is to believe that he knows everything. Human knowledge is limited, so we must always have enough knowledge regarding the task we will handle. The same is the case with performing manual handling tasks. While manually handling objects, the probability of sustaining an injury is always high. To reduce the risk of injuries, training before performing tasks is essential. The responsibility of providing manual handling training lies on the shoulder of the employer. A firm should always train its employees. Not only is it a legal requirement, but it also brings various benefits to the firm and its workers. Here are some of the key topics that a manual handling training course covers:
· Risk assessment
The foremost step of manual handling training includes risk assessment. Assessing the potential hazards in your surrounding before starting your work is an important factor. Identifying risks will help you take precautionary measures to avoid injury or accidents. It is important to understand that risk assessment is a vital step in creating a safer workplace. Assessing the risks is an important thing of its own. One easy solution to becoming an expert in determining the risk present in your surroundings is to take manual handling risks assessment training. These learning courses will help you understand and identify the threats that could occur while a worker performs their tasks.
· Anatomy and Physiology
This training topic covers the teaching of the body and how muscles and joints work together. It is always important to know the sensitive points of your body and how much you can perform a specific task. Learning about the body helps the workers understand the weight limit they can lift and carry.
· Correct lifting techniques
This part of the training focuses on a worker’s posture while performing manual tasks. Such as guidance on how to bend the knees, keep your back straight, etc.
· Pushing and pulling techniques
This topic emphasizes how to push and pull objects safely. Including the use of appropriate equipment to use for maximizing safety.
· Manual handling aids
Manual handling aids include trolleys, lifting straps, and pallet jacks. Manual handling training covers using these aids correctly to move objects around.
Ergonomics aims to create safe, comfortable, and productive workspaces by implementing human abilities and limitations into designing a workplace. To ease it up for you, this topic teaches how to set up workstations and equipment to reduce the risk of injury.
· Risk prevention
This topic covers the importance of taking a break while working. To re-energize your body and relax your muscles. This is an important step as it helps workers return to their best productivity after rest.
Effective communication between employees and employers is a major step in creating a successful work environment. Employees should be aware of how to report an incident in an emergency. Preventive measures can be implemented more quickly the earlier the incident is reported.
Tools and equipment for safe manual Handling
- Lifting straps and slings
- Pallet jacks
- Trolleys and carts
- Hoists and cranes
- Conveyor belts
- Step stools and ladder
Responsibilities of an employer in safe manual Handling
The sole responsibility of ensuring employees’ health and safety lies on an employer’s shoulders. When it comes to manual Handling, here are some of the duties an employer should perform:
- Risk assessment: Employers must take time to identify the risks and hazards in a workspace. Then taking steps to reduce those risks accordingly to reduce accidents and injuries.
- Providing safe equipment: Employers should provide workers with appropriate tools for manual handling tasks. Examples of manual handling tools include lifting straps and trolleys.
- Training: As informed in this article, it is important to understand the importance of training. It is an important aspect of safety that should never be ignored.
- Supervision: Employers should ensure that the employees perform manual handling tasks correctly. Supervising helps prevent accidents and also alerts the worker when needed. Especially when the worker is new to his job or performing his duty in a hazardous area.
- Monitoring: The firm must track the manual handling policies to understand their importance. Including any equipment provided and training given to the employees. Reviewing the monitoring results daily and implying safety measures accordingly.
- Consultation: Employers should allow the workers to consult with them on manual handling issues. Suppose the employee thinks a specific thing could be improved to benefit productivity. The employer should listen to the advice respectfully and take appropriate control measures.
In conclusion, employees and employers must understand the importance of safe manual Handling. By prioritizing secure manual Handling, a firm can benefit itself in various ways. Allowing the firm to stay safe from unwanted consequences. From improved productivity to reduced costs, installing safety measures offers different benefits. On the other hand, it is equally vital to understand that failure to create a safe workplace would harm a business and its reputation. By working towards secure manual Handling, we can create a healthier and safer workplace for everyone.
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