Manual Handling involves lifting, carrying, pushing, stacking or laying down objects without the use of mechanical equipments.
Incorrect Manual Handling is a major cause of injuries at work. It is the cause of the most frequently reported musculoskeletal disorder injury which is back strain.
These injuries CAN be prevented by using the following basic steps:
· Avoid the need for manual handling, as much as possible;
· Assess the risk of injury from any manual handling that cannot be avoided.
· Avoid lifting anything over 40 lbs. or 18 kg without help or a lifting device.
The following should be taken into consideration when lifting manually; this could be used as a simple guide.
Pre-Manual Handling Examination
· Can mechanical aids be used e.g. mobile lifting gear, forklift, trolleys etc.?
· Check the weight, check the center of gravity and stability.
· If necessary make a trial lift.
· Are there sharp edges?
· Is the load too heavy, too large or awkward?
· Can someone else help? Many hands make light work.
· Eliminate trip or slip hazards from the path to be travelled.
· Decide in advance how to handle the load.
· Package load so as not to obscure vision.
· Plan for opportunities to rest and recover, avoid long distance without rest.
· Know where to unload: Has it been identified, is a spot cleared for it?
· Keep object close to the body.
· Grasp firmly with both hands and ensure a good posture.
· Lift, keeping the back straight with relaxed muscles, arms close to body, leg muscles taking the strain.
· Step off in the direction- advance foot pointing, with load held close to the body.
· Watch your fingers!
· When lifting to a height from the floor do it in two stages
Back injury can occur during manual lifting on and off the job, from warehouse operations to picking up boxes of photocopying paper in the office or trying to move a generator at home.
A prevalent cause of back injury is poor manual handling technique due to the following:
· If the load is heavier than the person is capable of lifting and supporting, the load can become unbalanced causing the individual to lean far forward thereby stretching the upper part of the spine putting a strain on the lumber region resulting in a herniated disc.
· If an incorrect lifting practice is used and excessive strain is imposed on the back
· If the body is twisted during lifting, this will result in the heavy load being placed on the spine in a weak unsupported position which can cause dislocated disc
· If the loads are lifted or carried continuously without break, this may result in chronic backache over a period of time.
Here’s how to spare your spine!
· Footing is as important in lifting, keep feet close to the object; far enough apart for good balance (about shoulder-width). One foot slightly ahead works best.
· Bend knees; go down to a crouch, but not a full squat. It takes double the effort to straighten up from a full squat as it does from a crouch.
· Keep back as straight as possible; don't arch it.
· Get a good, firm grip; no lifting until your hold is strong and slip-proof.
· Lift object by straightening your legs, keeping load close to you as you come up.
· If you have to change direction, don't twist body. Lift object to carrying position, then your whole body by changing position of your feet.
· In setting load down, go down with back straight, knees bent, to a crouch.
· Gloves must be worn to protect against cuts, scratches or punctures.
· Wear safety boots or shoes to protect toes from falling loads and to prevent from slipping
Correct Lifting Techniques
Written by O’ Reese of En-pact Solutions Limited, 2013
Twitter: @O Reese2