We’ve all heard the advice: “lift with your knees” and “keep your back straight” when lifting heavy objects, but is this an adequate enough to protect your body from injury? Lifting items poses a big risk to employees in a workplace. Workers are exposed to injury when they attempt to carry things that are too heavy, difficult to grasp or too big to handle. This kind of activity happens much too often in workplaces. In fact, alongside falling, heavy lifting is one of the biggest causes of work-related injury.

What is Heavy Lifting?

Heavy lifting is the activity of manually handling an object. While what is considered heavy depends on each person, Worksafe advises that employees should always strive to minimise the weight of the materials workers are expected to carry. Loads can also be difficult not just due to their weight. Materials of the same weight may be more or less difficult to handle due to their shape, which can in turn affect how one carries an object.

Are Your Employees At Risk?

As expected, heavy lifting is prevalent in many workplaces, across a huge range of industries. Manual handling affects many and causes a lot of preventable injuries. If your workplace requires your employees to lift, handle or move any objects that could be too heavy for some, they are at risk.

While lifting objects can be an unavoidable task in many occupations, there are ways to reduce the chance of an injury. Even if your employees need to be carrying objects or manually handling heavy materials, it doesn’t mean they need to risk injury. Preventing accidents is possible through proper planning. It’s also important to remember that every individual is different in their capabilities. While some may be strong enough to carry heavy objects, others may not. Thorough assessment of worker’s capabilities should be noted.

Heavy Lifting Injuries Are Preventable

Injuries from heavy lifting are common and preventable. Through appropriate precautions it’s entirely possible to reduce the likelihood of risk for your employees. This risk reduction comes through identifying hazards, proper training and supply of the right equipment for the environment and the materials being handled.

Training to Reduce Heavy Lifting Injuries

As an employer or manager, you most likely already know your responsibilities to provide a safe work environment for your employees. While you aren’t able to micro-manage people every second of every day, the first step towards reducing injuries is to implement strategies that discourage risk taking.

Many people get injured when lifting because they ignore the risk. A lot of people take on more than they can handle, and end up hurting themselves in the process. Through thorough reiteration of the risks posed to workers, it’s possible to deter risk-taking and promote better practices. Education on the best practises for lifting objects can help reduce the frequency of injuries. Workers should be advised on the best approach, posture and technique. It’s also wise to include posters around the workplace that outline these methods. An informative visual is will serve as an effective reminder to workers on a daily basis.

Another way of reducing the prevalence of these injuries is to ensure that you supply the right equipment to assist with any materials handling. This requires you to assess the possible items employees may be working with and to make available and encourage using equipment when situations arise. Employees are much more likely to use equipment if it is heavily encouraged, visible and available to be used when needed.

For an environment of deliberate, intelligent management of heavy materials to exist, proper conduct of the introduction process into the business must be made. This is performed through a comprehensive understanding of what’s needed for the health and safety of workers. This includes:

  • Knowledge of the risks posed to workers

  • Understanding of the capabilities of workers

  • Good management of expectations of managers and employers

  • Clear and open communication lines between all lines of workflow

Dexters’ offers safe and reliable lifting and shifting equipment to assist with manual handling in warehouse and industrial environments. The tools we supply are durable and practical in environments where heavy lifting occurs. We’re also able to supply various trolleys for smaller scale manual lifting. Trolleys are extremely versatile and suitable for a large range of environments. From hospitality, service industries, as well as industrial and commercial environments.

Get in touch with our friendly team today for materials handling advice and equipment. We’re New Zealand’s leading supplier of materials handling and safety products in the workplace. Call 0800 339 8377 today.