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Reports show that 89% of serious claims in Australia for injuries in the workplace are categorised as Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Surprisingly, a material number of these arise from badly managed manual handling, which is completely avoidable. This is an unnecessary waste of time and an unnecessary risk to valuable assets, i.e. staff.

A Manual handling policy and procedures will cover the transfer, via movement, of any load or the bearing of any load. This includes any movement such as holding, supporting, lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying.

The total injuries are often a combination of serious accidents, cumulative damage, and, frequently, overexertion of the musculoskeletal areas, e.g. back and hands, arms, and feet.

Claims Relating To MSDs

MSDs form a very large segment of liability claims against many businesses, even those not in manual labour industries.

Legal history indicates that injury claims in the MSD and back areas are problematic unless there are thorough, watertight records on file to dispute breach of duty allegations such as insufficient information, access to said information, and inferior training.

A business’ claim profile is strengthened by having customised, accessible manual handling policies, comprehensive training, ongoing risk assessments, and implementation of controls.

Work Activity And Ergonomics

As a business owner or director, staff protection is obligatory, but it makes financial sense. Regulations require you to eliminate avoidable hazardous manual handling and to mitigate injury risks where dangerous manual handling is inherent to the job, i.e. blocklaying lifting blocks.

In-house risk assessment officers can assess work across the board as follows:

  • Ascertain if an item can be serviced or operated without the need to move it once or repeatedly.
  • Assess if items can be delivered directly to an endpoint by machinery.
  • Staff are often good advisors on which is the best equipment or methodology. This develops internal ownership of the solution.
  • Be flexible and test different solutions extensively in real work scenarios.
  • Ensure that all lifting equipment is labelled CE and that its specifications versus usage are well within the safe working parameters.
  • Do a risk assessment of the chosen solutions to avoid introducing a new, untreated hazard into the workplace.
  • Establish a schedule for statutory inspections and equipment operator training.
  • Establish a review schedule to monitor the relevance and effectiveness of the solutions.

Setting up manual handling manuals and procedures to manage risk will have a direct and quick impact on the frequency of accidents, absenteeism, and a company’s liability claims record.  This not only reduces business risk but improves the productivity and health of your employees and, therefore, employee engagement.

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