How to lift equipment safely in the workplace
Accidents involving handling, lifting and carrying accounted for 18% of all non-fatal injuries in the workplace in 2021/22, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive. This may sound inconsequential, but all types of ill health and injury at work cost the UK economy around £18 billion per year.
As such, mitigating the risks of harm caused by improper lifting and carrying techniques has a vital role to play for individuals and the nation alike, even if it’s only a small proportion of the wider picture.
In this article, we’ll delve into how employers and employees can ensure that equipment and supplies are lifted properly to reduce the risk of injury.
Any aspect of safety in the workplace should start with relevant training for all employees. It’s usually provided at the start of employment, but refresher sessions can be valuable in reminding staff about proper techniques and procedures.
Correct lifting form should be displayed, including aspects such as lifting with the knees rather than the back and looking for the safest grasping points. This is for smaller and lighter loads requiring manual handling, but heavier equipment should always be handled with lifting support.
Provision of PPE and safety equipment
Using the right safety gear and equipment is crucial in reducing the chances of injury. Back braces or lifting belts can be good for workers who do a lot of manual handling. Safety gloves and boots are recommended where loads are sharp or hazardous in any way.
Where mechanical support is needed, lifting equipment such as hoists, pulleys and forklifts should be present to do the majority of the work and complete with necessities such as strong rope. Operators must be trained to use these to reduce the risk of misuse.
Optimising the workplace
The work environment is also important to ensure any lifting or handling tasks can be completed with fewer risks. Obstacles should be removed and more space, sturdy flooring, extra lighting and appropriate conditions provided to make manual handling safer.
If possible, reducing the carrying distance or avoiding dramatic height changes can reduce the strain on workers and ensure tasks can be completed safely and reliably.
Policies and procedures
Implementing the correct policies and procedures should be integral to your health and safety strategy. Clear evidence of these where workers can see them helps to reinforce their existence and boost adherence and accountability.
Policies could be around only trained employees carrying out lifting tasks or limits on the size of the load people can carry.