Manual handling in the workplace is defined as any action that requires a person or persons to handle an object, or move an item from one location to another. Be it moving a heavy box, carrying produce, or simply moving trollies, each of these every day actions count as manual handling events. Though much of what is defined as manual handling may sound like mundane everyday tasks, manual handling incidents actually comprise of 30%, or almost a third, of all workplace injuries.
Manual handling injuries are more likely to occur in workplaces where employees are lifting or moving heavy or large stock. This being said, it should come as no surprise that supermarkets can easily become the setting for such accidents. In order to avoid common incidents and injuries related to manual handling, it’s important to identify and mitigate the risk factors in your supermarket.
Teach Proper Lifting Techniques
Workplace injuries of all kinds can be avoided if employees are provided with the proper training and techniques to execute tasks safely. When it comes to manual handling activities such as lifting heavy boxes and stocking shelves, employees should be trained and informed of proper lifting techniques.
Injuries resulting from poor lifting technique are commonly related to the back, and include spinal injuries, slipped or bulging discs, and muscle strains. To avoid back injuries, encourage employees to refrain from lifting heavy loads with their backs and to avoid twisting and turning while handling heavy objects. Poor posture can also result in lifting injuries. If loads are bulky, they may obscure a worker’s line of sight, resulting in trips, falls, or other accidents.
Being sure to educate all employees in safe lifting techniques is an important measure to protect staff and prevent workplace incidents.
Avoid Unnecessary Manual Handling
Employees should be encouraged to refrain from participating in unnecessary manual handling in the workplace. Many lifting injuries may occur when employees attempt to lift boxes or items that exceed their capacities. To avoid unnecessary lifting, encourage workers to seek guidance before moving or lifting boxes. Avoid designing stock rooms in which heavy items are stored on high level shelves. When workers are advised against unnecessary manual handling, it becomes less likely for employees to attempt to move, lift, or relocate stock that may result in injury.
Use Carts or Trolleys
When moving large amounts of stock or relocating items over longer distances, provide employees with carts or trolleys. These tools will aid in longer distance movement such as unloading trucks and moving boxes across the workplace. The longer an employee is meant to carry a heavy item, the more heightened risk for injury becomes. Back, neck, and shoulder strain can all result from manually carrying heavy loads over longer distances. Trolleys and carts take the weight off of employees when handling boxes and will help them to unload and move stock safely and efficiently.