Manual handling reaches every corner of the workplace, from heavy lifting to prolonged sitting. Avoid WHS woes with these tips to identify and intervene.

Manual handling is a common workplace health and safety (WHS) issue for many business owners and HR professionals.

If managed incorrectly, manual handling can become dangerous. If the risks associated with mismanaged handling are not eliminated or reduced, they can cause significant and irreversible injuries – which could put you at risk of compensation claims. The average compensation paid for serious claims was as high as $6,800 in 2016, with over 104,000 claims paid between 2015 to 2016.

According to Safe Work Australia, a dangerous manual task is where you or your employees lift, lower, push, pull, carry, hold or restrain something. They can include:
 
  • repetitive movement – e.g. typing at a computer
  • repetitive or sustained force – e.g. lifting heavy items
  • sustained or awkward postures – e.g. bending or twisting while stacking a shelf
  • exposure to vibration – e.g. operating heavy machinery
Make risk assessments a priority

Safe Work advises you should carry out a risk assessment for any manual tasks that have the potential of being hazardous, or you have identified as being hazardous.

A risk assessment of manual tasks will help you identify:
 
  • postures, movements and forces that pose a risk and at what point they may become dangerous
  • why they are happening and what needs to done for it to be fixed
Failure to appropriately manage hazardous manual tasks may result in a breach of WHS laws. If you have questions about your WHS responsibilities, call our Workplace Advice Line team on 13 29 59.