By Amanda Pennycook, Usher Group Safety Manager
As an employer that has thousands of staff who spend their days toiling on construction sites, one of our greatest health and safety concerns relates to manual handling injuries.
Nothing highlights that more than Safe Work Australia data that shows the most common condition for which workers’ compensations claims are lodged are musculoskeletal disorders, many of which are caused by poor manual handling practices.
Be it an acute injury due to a specific event or a cumulative impairment that has built up over time, such cases can take a devastating toll on our workers – and almost all could have been avoided with a little foresight.
That’s why, as part of Usher Group’s year-long safety campaign ‘Usher Safety First 2019’, our safety team is visiting construction sites around the country to educate our employees and many others about how to identify and assess hazardous manual tasks.
We are urging foremen and site managers to consult their workers about any signs of discomfort, muscular aches and pains that can signal potential hazards and use the data they collect to identify trends or common problems.
We are reminding staff to avoid common causes of musculoskeletal disorders such as overexertion (handling loads beyond capabilities), repetitive actions, maintaining a body position for long periods, and incorrect techniques.
We are reinforcing that mechanical aids such as trolleys, wheelbarrows and forklifts are a must when dealing with heavy weights.
Importantly, we are encouraging staff to speak up as soon as they notice a niggle or strain that, if left undisclosed, could be the start of something worse.
We can only take action if we know about such concerns, including drafting an Usher Group Suitable Duties Program to ensure injured workers are restricted to appropriate tasks until their ailments are remedied.
It’s fair to say manual handling will always be a concern for our company but that’s only because we will always remain committed to being smart about the way we work.