How to Stay Safe and Injury Free at Work: Part Two
Think about your last day at work. How many hours did you spend doing the same task over and over? Two hours, five hours, maybe more? How did your body feel when you packed up for the day? Was it tired, strained, tight?
Whether you’re a secretary or labourer, most jobs involve some form of manual handling. Duties like lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying as well as repetitive tasks like packing and typing are all considered manual handling activities. While not all these tasks seem hazardous, if they’re done incorrectly, they can lead to injury. In 2015-16, 90% of workplace injuries were related to injury and musculoskeletal disorders and poor manual handling practices were to blame for 45% of these!
At FORDESPHYSIO, we’re passionate about helping people recover from workplace injuries but also about preventing them! Making changes to workplace design is an effective way to minimise or eliminate the risk of manual handling injuries, however, good posture and lifting techniques can also help reduce risks. Last month Alex gave a presentation for Communify about manual handling and safe practises at work. Below we share some of her top take-home tips …
1. Understand your body and what it is capable of. What might be a physically manageable task for one person may be demanding for another. Never attempt to lift, carry or move loads if you think they may be too heavy. There is a difference between what you can lift and what you can lift safely. If in doubt, seek advice or get help.
2. Keep physically healthy. This means regular exercise, getting early treatment for niggles or maintenance treatment to prevent flare-ups of chronic injuries
3. Thoroughly assess tasks before attempting them – examine the load size, shape and weight, how many people are needed to carry/move it safely, should a lifting aid be used, is the path clear and free from hazards.
4. Maintain correct posture FOR YOU! There is no one size fits all for the best posture or lifting technique. If you have a sore back bending are the hips and knees might be the best way to go, but if you've recently had knee surgery and you can't bend your knees, then bending through your hips and spine might be the safer option.
5. Twisting, reaching and bending movements aren't inherently 'bad'. However, they may start to cause problems when we increase their frequency, repetition or we add load. Managing awkward postures or position when placing high demands of frequency and load is important.
6. When lifting it is important to work within your POWER ZONE. The power zone is where we are strongest and is generally close to the body and at hip height. So when holding loads (especially heavy ones or for long periods of time) doing so in your power zone is the best way to do it.
If you'd like Alex to come and have a chat to your workplace let us know! Alex’s presentations include teaching the fundamentals of safe manual handling, providing tools to assess your own body and apply this information to your individual circumstances. Alex’s visits can help you jumpstart a strong health and safety awareness program at work or build on, strengthen or reinforce and refresh your existing initiatives.