The client’s problem
The high ratio of manual handling injuries amongst metal fabrication and welding employees was a major concern to workers and their employer. Neither employer nor workers had any systematic response to deal with their ergonomic and manual handling hazards.
The National Code of Practice for Managing Risk in the Workplace placed a responsibility on the employer to ensure safe manual handling practices were in use. The employer and employees coordinated to use the Code’s framework as a means of responding to their high incidence of manual handling injuries.
A manual handling programme was devised by the company and select employees nominated to represent their workgroups. The programme paired supervisors and the nominated representatives who participated in:
- A comprehensive training workshop held off-site for addressing the manual handling legislation combined with examples from their workplace.
- Site visits to identify six manual handling hazards.
- Group discussions to assess risk levels, decide upon one priority hazard from each of the 6 sites and then develop proposed improvements.
- The improvements were then trialled for six weeks after which they were reviewed in a half-day workshop assisting with the plans for additional improvements.
Hierarchy of Controls:
Administrative and engineering
Many solutions were proposed and consequently, hazards eliminated. A contributing factor toward success has been the improved communication, consultation and cooperation between supervisors and nominated representatives combined with a consistent use of systematic methods. Substantial savings were achieved with reduced claims for body posture and manual handling injuries.