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Prevent manual handling injuries

Workers often injure fingers in lifting, manual handling or replacing an access plate, cover, grid or lid on a floor, channel or drain, instead of using lifting handles.

Operational procedures should include manual lifting and manual handing job instructions, with relevant tools to hand.

Most workers instinctively bend over, and grasp at covers at the sides, raising risk of injury during removing, handling, and replacing of covers and lids.

Teams should design, provide, and demonstrate use of grabbing tools to lift covers on floors, drains, and channels.

A commonly used floor level grabbing tool is about 700mm long, allowing workers to stand, insert the grab, bend their legs, and use leg muscles to lift weights.

Manual handling risk assessment

Work on covers and similar manual handling jobs must be assessed for risk of injury and ergonomic strain, during baseline and issue based risk assessments, in line with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, (OHS Act) requirement that employers must identify, assess, and reduce risk.

Employers are also required to provide safe tools, procedures, and training to raise awareness and ensure that workers are competent for all the tasks that they would perform.

Jobs or functions rarely performed, raise the risk of incidents and injury, and should be singled out for careful assessment, work instructions, and management. No task is too basic to assess and manage.

A leading cause of injury at home, for example, is work at height, since most people believe themselves competent and equipped to use basic tools like ladders, pliers, hammers, and brushes.

* This report is based on an incident report circulated by the Process Safety Forum.

PHOTO; A worker using a grabbing tool for lifting floor level access covers. Manual handling pose a risk of incidents involving finger, hand, and back injuries. A stand-up grabbing tool could prevent incidents and injuries, and instill a culture of safe manual handing on site.

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