What is manual handling?

What is manual handling?

Hello there, this is Goke Akingbade (your Safety Guide) here again with another interesting topic of discussion.  We stated last time that manual handling refers to any transporting or supporting of a load(either by pushing, lifting, holding, putting down ,pulling or carrying of the load).

The Effect of posture on manual handling procedures.

Manual handling involves muscular work. There are majorly two types of muscular work, they are:

Static work: this involves maintaining a posture (holding the body or part of the body in a fixed position), thus making certain skeletal muscles stay contracted.

Dynamic work: this is when moving body parts, active skeletal muscles contract and relax rhythmically.

The difference between these two types is shown in the following illustration:when you carry boxes, your arm muscles perform static work in holding the boxes, while your leg muscles carry out dynamic work in walking.Static as well as dynamic work can cause fatigue and lead to injuries. It is very important that manual handling should therefore be carried out as much as possible in a neutral posture.

Posture is the position of your body (including your arms and legs) while you are working. Youre working in a bad (constrained, awkward or poor) posture when your joints must be held beyond their comfortable, neutral position, and close to the extreme end of their maximum range of movement. In a constrained posture, muscles can produce less force than in a more extended, comfortable one. This implies that muscles will get tired faster in awkward postures, even when the work activity does not require high muscle forces. Also, the mechanical load on the spine and joints is higher in these postures than in comfortable ones.

The Effect of the work environment on manual handling.

The following characteristics of the work environment may increase the risk of back injury:

The Space available:A lack of space to carry out manual handling may lead to inappropriate or awkward body postures and dangerous imbalance in the loads.

Floor :Handling loads on different working levels or on floors that are slippery, uneven or unstable (such as working platforms or fishing boats) may increase the risk of accidents and back injury.

Climate:The physical climate (temperature, humidity and ventilation) may affect the risk of back injury. Heat makes you feel tired, and sweat makes it hard to hold tools, resulting to requiring more force. Cold can make your hands numb, making it hard to grip objects.

Lighting :Inadequate lighting may increase the risk of accidents when handling loads.It may also make you work in awkward positions to see clearly what you are doing. 

The individual:There are also some individual factors that can influence the risk of back injury:

Experience, training and familiarity with the job (for example, new episodes of low back pain are common in the first year of employment).

Age (the risk of low back disorders increases with the number of years at work: the first episode of low back pain occurs in most people when they reach the age of 30)

Physical dimensions and capacity of the worker (height, weight and strength, etc.)

Personal lifestyle (smoking may, for example, increase the risk of low back disorders)

History of back disorders (this is a predictor of future back injuries).The willingness to use personal protective equipment (for example, clothing and footwear).

Risk assessment of manual handling activities.

Employers are required to assess the health and safety risks resulting from working tasks and activities, including manual handling. A risk assessment is a careful examination of what in the work could cause harm to people. It can then be decided whether sufficient precautions have been taken, or whether it is necessary to do more to prevent harm. The challenge is to eliminate, or at least reduce, the potential for accidents, injury or ill health that arise from working activities and tasks.

Simple steps can be followed to carry out an effective risk assessment in the workplace:

Look for the hazards that could cause accidents, injuries or ill health, taking into account the load, the task, the environment and the operatori

Decide who might be harmed and how: evaluate the potential consequences of the hazards

Decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done: find ways to reduce the risk

Monitor the risks, and review preventive measures.

Proper Lifting technique:You should adopt the following technique when lifting the load:

Put your feet around the load and your body over it (if this is not feasible, try to keep your body as close possible to the load and in front of it).

Use the muscles of your legs when lifting

Keep your back straight

Pull the load as close as possible to your body

Lift and carry the load with straight arms.

This is where we will be stopping for today, so till I come your way again, this is Goke Akingbade (your Safety Guide ) wishing you a fruitful weekend.For your health and safety documentation, trainings and seminars. Please contact safetygsolutions@outlook.com  or 07081101064.

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