Recent labor statistics have shown that over thirty percent of occupational injuries are caused by manual lifting and handling. Only trips and falls are more common. Manual lifting may not seem as dangerous as other industrial occupations, but improper form and technique can lead to debilitating pain and disability.
Workers in the trucking industry are especially at risk. Just as we invest in fuel management systems to optimize our fleets, we also need to buy the right tools that minimize injuries. That’s why many states have instituted workplace regulations that deal with the occupational hazards of activities such as lifting, loading, carrying, pulling, and pushing heavy loads.
Here are a few tips on how to improve your handling techniques and reduce handling accidents in the workplace.
1. Check the load
Always check if the load requires any manual handling. There is always a way to simplify the process. For instance, check for any mechanical handling tools at your workplace. Always use handling and lifting devices such as stair climbers, pallet trucks, or hand trucks. Aim to reduce the time spent handling and lifting heavy loads as much as possible.
2. Get training
Make sure that the person doing the lifting and moving is properly trained for the job. While minor loads may not require specialized training, most states mandate training when working with heavier and more complex loads. Ensure the person can use lifting and moving aids and is familiar with techniques to make their job easier and less risky.
3. Formulate a plan of action
Always formulate some plan of action before lifting or handling heavy and complicated loads. A plan of action could involve checking for potential risk factors and trip hazards and clearing the worksite of obstacles to improve movement.
For particularly tricky and heavy items, you may want to consider whether a short break is required and whether the lifting and moving process isn’t blocking access for other people in the area.
4. Watch your form
When handling items manually, always ensure that your body is properly positioned to minimize strains and injuries. Check your starting form and make sure that your back, hips, and knees are slightly bent instead of flexed. Do not twist your back and keep your shoulders level and mirroring the direction of your hips. Look forward and keep your movement smooth and fluid while moving.
You should also listen to your body. If something feels too heavy to lift, then you probably shouldn’t force yourself to lift it. Ask for assistance or use a handling aid. When placing an item down, always bend your knees and keep your back straight or slightly bent. Do not take too long in the kneeling posture and adjust your body to the correct position once the item has been put down.
5. Use a moving aid
When handling something that requires pulling or pushing, always use a stair climber or a hand truck to make the job easier. In some jurisdictions, the employer is required to provide sufficient handling aids for their employees. Always use a stair climber when moving items up or downstairs.
When choosing a sack or hand truck, make sure that the wheels are in good condition. They should also be made of durable materials with bearings and casting that require minimal maintenance. Do not skimp on trolleys: a cheap hand truck gets damaged easily and will have to be replaced. Save money now by buying a good quality hand truck that is less likely to break down.
A final word
These five tips will help minimize accidents the next time you need to lift and move heavy loads. Everyone must be familiar with the dangers of improper moving and lifting. It may not require much skill to do, but one wrong move can lead to a lifetime of pain and suffering.