The idea of imposing maximum arbitrary weights to be lifted as a form of preventing manual handling injuries is no longer accepted. The basic strategy employers should adopt to comply with the relevant statutory codes and advisory standards, the National Standard for Manual Handling and the National Code of Practice for Manual Handling involves four (4) main stages:
- identify hazards,
- assess risks,
- eliminate and control risks,
- evaluate the elimination and control measures.
The idea of risk identification is to identify and place in order the jobs or tasks that require risk assessment. This is usually undertaken by analysis of injury records, consultation with employees and direct observation during inspections of the work.
The next stage of risk assessment requires a competent person to undertake an assessment of the task to determine the precise nature of the causes of the risk where possible, to allow an effective risk control strategy to be adopted. In undertaking a risk assessment the following factors should be taken into account:
- actions and movements;
- workplace and work station layout
- working posture and position;
- duration and frequency of manual handling;
- location of loads and distances moved;
- weights and forces;
- characteristics of loads and equipment;
- work organisation;
- work environment;
- skills, experience and training of employees;
- age of employees;
- special needs of employees, either temporary or permanent;
- any other factors considered relevant by the employer, the employees or their representatives on health and safety issues.
The risk control can then be accomplished by a confirmation of:
- job redesign (modification of the design of the load or work environment)
- the provision of mechanical handling equipment; and
- the provision of training in safe manual handling techniques.
As a general guide, no person should be required to lift, lower or carry loads above 55kg unless mechanical assistance or team lifting arrangements are provided. It is also generally accepted that adults are less likely to have a back injury if the objects are kept below 16kg.
The weights between 16kg and 55kg therefore require more care in the assessment process. Mechanical assistance and/or team lifting arrangements should be provided to reduce the risk of injury associated with these heavier weights.
The use of force by a person to lift, push, pull, carry or otherwise move, hold or restrain a load.
Silverback and subcontracted personnel are to comply with the relevant provisions of the following procedural requirements and references. The typical hazards addressed by this procedure include:
- Manual handling risk assessments are to be completed for all high-risk manual handling tasks that employees undertake with appropriate control measures implemented during site activities.
- Mechanical equipment is to be used for manual handling tasks wherever practicable on site.
- Where practicable, personnel are to rotate tasks such that lighter manual handling tasks are undertaken to break up heavier or more demanding tasks.
- Silverback and subcontractors are to ensure that their employees have been adequately trained and instructed in back care and safe manual handling techniques where they are exposed to manual handling risks throughout their on-site activities.
QLD Workplace Health and Safety Act 1995, Sections 22, 28-31
QLD Advisory Standard: Manual Tasks – 2000
QLD Advisory Standard: Manual Handling – Building Industry -1999 National Standard for Manual Handling.
National Code of Practice for Manual Handling.
(Items 1-4 & to monitor compliance with this procedure) – Construction Supervisor
(Items 1-4 & to ensure adequate manual handling practices are employed during on-site activities) – Subcontractors and Silverback personnel working on site
No specific records to be maintained by Silverback