Did you know body stressing is the most common injury when manual handling in Australia? According to SafeWork Australia, 37% of all serious workers compensation claims occurred as a result of body stressing in the past year. This includes activities such as handling, lifting, carrying, or putting down objects and low muscle loading by hand or using a machine. So, taking reasonable precautions to ensure your personal health and safety at work is vital to staying safe and preventing injury.
In this article our expert legal team dives into the most common manual handling injuries along with tips to prevent handling injuries. Plus, how to go about claiming compensation if you have experienced a manual handling injury at work.
What are the most common manual handling injuries?
The three most common manual handling injures are body stressing (37%), falls, trips, and slips (23%), and being hit by moving objects (16%). These workplace manual handling injuries are most likely to occur in industries such as agriculture, foresting and fishing, manufacturing, or transport, postal and warehousing. Unfortunately, as these hazards are common within the workplace, it is vital to ensure you implement safety strategies to avoid these health risk wherever possible.
How to prevent manual handling injuries
There are several ways to prevent manual handling injuries while at work. This includes first assessing the environment you are completing a manual task in. Ensure the destination of the load and the path of the load is clear from obstructions and you are equipped with the relevant PPE equipment.
Next ensure your balance and position is stable and the weight you are lifting is reasonable for you. Consider if the load could be broken into smaller and lighter packages instead of one heavier load. Or if any equipment could be utilised to assist in lifting the load such as a forklift or trolley.
When lifting the load, ensure you use your legs and do not place added strain on your back to lift. Keep your lifting movement smooth and take rests where needed.
The straight back and bent knees principle
In the past, training in manual handling techniques has focused on teaching workers the “straight back and bent knees” principle. However, this program relies on human behaviour, which varies from person to person and people have different responses to the workplace environment.
The “straight back” lifting principles cannot be easily applied to all lifting tasks and have proven to be ineffective in reducing injuries. Lifting is only one small part of manual handling requirements in workplaces. There are other risks in handling, such as pushing, pulling, and carrying.
How Much is Safe to Lift?
It is not just the weight of the thing being lifted that determines whether a person can manually handle or lift an object safely. For this reason, weight limits are not defined in workplace health and safety regulations.
Relevant factors associated with the risk of injury from lifting include the postures and movements related to the task, the frequency and duration of the lifting, the design and layout of the workplace and the nature, weight and size of the object being lifted.
Is a team lift a safer form of manual handling?
No. Team lifting brings its own risks of injury. Workers may not be matched in size, strength or experience and workers may not exert the same force simultaneously as a result of which the load is not shared equally. There can also be unexpected increases in the load or a change of balance occurring if a team member loses their grip or balance.
Is there a best way to lift to avoid manual handling injuries
There is no best way to lift. Any manual handling that requires force, awkward or static postures or is repetitive contains some risks of injury.
The better question to ask, is why is lifting required at all? Redesigning systems or using equipment and mechanical aids that eliminate lifting entirely are always preferred.
Who is eligible for worker’s compensation for a manual handling injury?
Under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act), workers are eligible for compensation or rehabilitation arrangements due to an injury or illness related to work. This worker’s eligibility criteria include employees of Australian Government agencies or statutory authorities or employees of organisations who have been granted a licence to self-insure.
The injury or illness sustained at work must also meet eligibility requirements. This means under the SRC Act 1988, a worker can claim compensation if the injury or illness occurred at work or was significantly contributed to by work. The injury can have occurred at work, away from work undertaking work-related business or travelling for work.
How can you claim workers injury compensation?
If you have experienced a manual handing injury you may be entitled to worker’s compensation. To make a worker’s compensation claim the individual must first report their injury to their supervisor or manager as soon as possible.
Next, the worker must seek treatment for their injury and obtain a medical certificate by a legally qualified medical practitioner. After obtaining a medical certificate the worker can file their compensation claim online.
If you’ve suffered a manual handling injury while lifting at work, you may have a claim for worker’s compensation. To find out where you stand, call GC Law now for a free no obligation appointment on 1300 302 318. Or contact our expert legal team online today.
Manual Handling FAQs
What percentage of workplace injuries are caused by manual handling?
In Australia, of the 4.2% of the workforce who experienced a workplace injury, 24.2% of those injuries were a manual handling injury.
What injuries are associated with manual handling?
The top manual handling injuries include back injuries, strains, sprains, hand injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, soft-tissue injuries, chronic pain, slipping, tripping, or falling, pulling your hernia or injuries to the foot.
What are 5 manual handling hazards?
Hazardous manual handling includes unstable or imbalanced loads, exposure to a sustained vibration, awkward posture, poor lifting technique, overstretching muscles, improperly packaged goods, exposed cables or wires, uneven flooring and more.