Hazard: Manual Handling
What is a manual task?
A hazardous manual task, as defined in the WHS Regulations, means a task that requires a person to lift, lower, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain any person, animal or thing involving one or more of the following:
- Repetitive or sustained force;
- high or sudden force;
- repetitive movement;
- sustained or awkward posture;
- exposure to vibration.
These factors (known as characteristics of a hazardous manual task) directly stress the body and can lead to injury.
Risk: Sprains and strains to your back, neck and or limbs caused by:
- Exertion (lifting heavy objects),
- Repetitive actions (completing a manual task continuously
over long periods of time),
- 3. Awkward postures (completing a manual task in an extreme position),
- 4. Prolonged Sitting or static positions (sitting for long periods of time using
inadequate ergonomic precautions), or
- Continuous standing (standing in one position without
relieving by way of a brief walk or using matting).
You must always assess each job before commencing and during, to ensure all necessary control measures are in place.
- Never lift anything too heavy, always get another person to assist you if the load is too heavy for you. Always lift an object close to your body keeping your back straight. Never twist while lifting or over extend any part of your body. A simple example of a manual handling task on site for this may be carrying of a mop bucket, and a good safety tip is to never over fill a mop bucket (no more than 1/3 full) and to lift it following the correct procedures. Or if needing to mop a small office on level one you could leave your bucket at the bottom and only carry the mop up.
- Ensure the manual task is not too great for you and take regular breaks if necessary. A simple example of a manual handling task on site for this may be wiping of sinks for three hours straight, and a good safety tip is to possibly swap hands to share the work, take regular breaks and if this task is something that is done continuously then it may be necessary to share it with another work mate (team work).
- Ensure the manual task is not too great for you and do not perform the task if you need to constantly bend or twist your back. A simple example of a manual handling task on site for this may be cob webbing or glass cleaning using an extension pole for long periods of time, and a good safety tip for this may be to always assess the job so you don’t have to work in awkward positions and if this is necessary then regular breaks will need to be taken. If the position needed is going to be too great for long periods then it may be necessary to use an elevated work platform.
- Ensure you are sitting ergonomically (assess the area) at all times e.g. sit up straight, put the padding of the seat in the lower part of your back, work bench set at the correct height, feet flat on the floor & take regular breaks to stretch. A simple example of a manual handling task for this may be if you have to perform office tasks at a desk, and a good safety tip is to work ergonomically sitting at the desk upright with a straight back with the padding of the seat in your lower back and the desk set at the correct height for you with your feet flat on the ground. Make sure you set your work desk up optimally so over stretching or awkward positions do not come in play. You could also stand at your desk to work or purchase a desk at a height that allows you to stand. Regular breaks may also be necessary.
- If possible you should always stand on some kind of padding if you are doing this for extended periods of time, regular breaks involving walking is always good to relieve the stress. A simple example of a manual handling task on site for this may be working for extended periods of time in one position on concrete (Spare parts personnel), and a good safety tip is if it is not possible to work on a padded floor then to wear good shoes with padding. A regular break is also good to relieve the stress and walking will keep the blood flowing.
A good example of how a task may involve a number of manual handling processes may be “vacuuming the floor”. Not only have you got a weight on your back, so you must ensure the harnesses are in good working order and are used correctly, but you are also twisting, leaning forward and back and at times you may bend over slightly. All have inherent risks that must be assessed before and during the task. It is your responsibility to WORK Safely.
Always assess the job before commencement and during the task for any risks that may arise including correct manual handling procedures, if you are unsure or maybe have an improvement suggestion of how to do something better then discuss with your immediate supervisor/manager (Work smarter not harder). Also review our safety manual on site, listing all our policies and procedures, including how to safely perform manual handling duties.
Following is a website you can access that lists a number of legislative issues, the codes of practices, as well as procedures, case studies facts etc.