Safety Alert 94 - Manual Handling

5 July 2021

Did you know?
Manual handling related injuries make up 1 in 3 reported injuries in Australia.

What injuries are related to manual handling?

  • Sprains and strains
    • Sprain and strain injuries due to manual handling are the most common injuries suffered by workers across all workplaces.
  • Back injuries
    • Common back injuries include injuries to the spine and slipped discs.
  • Soft-tissue injuries to wrists, arms, shoulders, neck or legs
    • Muscle injury - acute muscular strains often occur when a worker is lifting/pushing/pulling a heavy load in an awkward position, such as away from the body or above shoulder height.
    • Tendon injury - most tendon injuries occur near joints, such as the shoulder, elbow, knee and ankle. A tendon injury may seem to happen suddenly, but usually it is the result of many tiny tears to the tendon that have happened over time.
    • Nerve injury - a pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness and/or weakness. One of the risk factors here is overuse.
  • Hernias
    • Hernias arise due to the constant pressure that is put on the muscles in the body. It is not only a particularly heavy lift that can cause a hernia at work, prolonged lifting of lighter objects can also be a contributing factor.
  • Chronic pain
    • Caused by cumulative disorders due to the gradual and cumulative deterioration of the musculoskeletal system through continuous lifting / handling activities.

What can I do to prevent manual handling injuries?

  • Warm up – start your day with and regularly pause for warm-up/stretching exercises.
    • Pre-shift and regular warm-up exercises reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injuries by reducing fatigue, improving muscular balance and posture, and improving muscle coordination.
  • Follow correct manual handling techniques
    • Be certain each load is within your lifting capacity and will not obstruct your line of vision.
    • Check that your route and lay down area are free of hazards and are adequately lit.
    • Obtain a good footing and maintain a straight back posture.
    • Bend at the knees.
    • Grip the object firmly, using the palms of your hands and the roots of your fingers.
    • Lift gradually by straightening the legs.
    • Keep the load close to your body.
    • Wear gloves when handling hot materials or objects with sharp or ragged edges.
    • When an object requires two or more employees to handle, one employee should give the signals for lifting and lowering the object in unison.
    • If you can’t move the object safely and you are unable to break it down into smaller compartments, you will need to get mechanical assistance.

For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact EGT on (08) 6241 6100 or speak with your Field Officer.

To view this safety alert as a PDF, click here.

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