Keeping your employees safe: minimising the risk of manual handling injuries

Manual handling injuries continue to provide a challenge for those in the disability and aged care sectors.

According to Safework Australia statistics, musculoskeletal injuries represented 55% (or almost 60,000 claims) of all serious claims in 2017-2018. Support workers in the community and personal services industry represent almost 32% of those who have experienced a serious injury. This data indicates that the risks associated with lifting, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding, moving, or restraining people and objects during the provision of care, are significant and require ongoing management. Indeed workers in the disability and aged care sectors have one of the highest rates of injury in the world.

Supporting clients who have a disability or who are frail and aged is often very challenging. General manual handling tasks which assist with daily activities such as personal care and mobility tasks, represent key body movements and static poses performed by support workers on a regular basis. The challenge for employers is to ensure their staff have the knowledge to recognise the risk of these movements and poses and support them in finding solutions to performing them safely.

Common physical hazards and risks in disability services:

  • Lifting, supporting and transferring clients
  • Using equipment such as wheelchairs and lifting hoists
  • Slips, trips and falls

WorkSafe Victoria

Some employer duties:

  • For your employees, you must provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and free of risks to health, so far as is reasonably practicable (’employees’ may include contractors and agency staff)
  • Give your employees the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health
  • Ensure that the conduct of your business does not endanger other people (including clients, volunteers, and visitors)
  • Report notifiable incidents

WorkSafe Victoria

Training and manual handling:

Support workers should be trained in work health and safety obligations including manual handling and ensure they follow procedures. Effective training and adequate supervision will help support workers become aware of safety issues and perform their jobs consistently and safely, for themselves and their clients.

Manual handling training should include:

  • Risk management interventions – find, assess, control and monitor
  • Recognising specific physical and psychosocial risk factors
  • Understanding manual handling from a holistic perspective – not just the back
  • Undertaking a risk assessment of common manual handling tasks
  • Creating solutions for functional movements
  • Addressing behavioural elements of positive reinforcement and alternate strategies

Basic Manual Handling Principles is just one of the many online live video conference courses we have on offer. We have just opened our public training venue in Hampton for People Manual Handling – Public Dates. Contact us to find out more.

Premium Health were fast, flexible and willing to assist at all times, we changed sessions from face-to-face (on-site) to video conferencing for all of our people. This was a great achievement and provided a great outcome.
Jenny O’Farrell
Head of Learning & Development, Disability Services Australia

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