Manual tasks are one of the most common causes of incidents, accidents, and injuries in workplaces around the world. There are right ways and wrong ways to perform manual tasks around the workplace. The wrong ways can cause personal and organisational financial losses, Musculoskeletal Disorders, and a variety of other injuries.
Every worker should undergo adequate training before performing manual tasks at work. This includes learning how to carry out risk assessments, and acquiring all appropriate PPE for each task.
There are always many things to consider in every situation. But here are ten helpful things to remember before carrying out manual tasks in the workplace:
Manual task injuries can affect any worker at any time. It only takes one wrong move. However, prolonged exposure to poor practices, such as bad posture or incorrect lifting techniques can cause injuries. In contrast, they can also happen suddenly from a single event of overexertion or improper practice.
The back has lifting ratio of ten to one when using proper lifting techniques. So, the weight of every object you lift is compounded tenfold on the lumbar region. Therefore, if you pick up a five kilogram box of office supplies, it will put fifty kilograms of pressure on your lower back.
Injuries often occur when workers undertake manual tasks with relatively light loads. Because people often make the mistake of thinking that light loads pose no risk, but they’re wrong. Failing to observe correct manual task practices can cause injury regardless of the weight of the load.
The weight of a load is not the only factor that can contribute to manual task injuries. In fact, there are several other factors that workers must consider before performing tasks. These include: the working height, load size and stability, and the frequency, duration, and repetition of a task.
As with any task, rushing in without a plan is usually a critical mistake that can have disastrous results. Manual tasks are no different. Hence, failing to plan ahead and understand the risks of manual tasks is a major cause of injury.
Just because you can lift or carry or push or pull an object, doesn’t mean that you should. There is a big difference between what people can lift, and what they can safely lift. So, recall the ten to one lifting ratio and consider the safety of your ability for the task, not the possibility.
Pallet trucks, hand trolleys, winches, forklifts, and a variety other mechanical aids are designed to make manual tasks safer and easier. If you have access to mechanical aids in your workplace, and have the appropriate training, utilise them whenever possible.
No worker is an island. There are those manual tasks that involve slightly too big, heavy, or awkward loads. Always ask for help. Call on your fellow workers for assistance to perform a team lift if a task demands it in order to complete it safely.
Many workplace injuries and incidents stem from bad habits and improper manual task practices. Adopting positive and safe attitudes towards performing manual tasks will help to prevent these injuries altogether. Remember, there is a right way to do things. Do it that way.
Finally, If a manual task can’t be done safely, then it can’t be done. It’s as simple as that.
Every manual task is different and comes with its own unique set of challenges and risks. Therefore, every task requires a unique approach in order to carry it out safely and avoid injury. However, they all demand a proactive attitude towards workplace safety and the same due diligence, care, and responsibility.
Our huge collection of workplace safety titles includes Manual Tasks for Office, Warehouse, and Industry, to help get you and your workers up to date and ready to safely perform manual tasks in your workplace.
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This content was created by Vocam and is intended to be used only as a guide and should not be relied on as formal training or legal advice.
As standards and regulations frequently change, all information should be considered by relevant local experts and authorities.