For the majority of people, picking something up and putting it down again is an everyday occurrence.
An occurrence which does not take much thought. Pick up coffee mug. Take lifesaving sip. Lower coffee mug. (Repeat as many times as necessary).
With lifting being such a common task, you would have thought that injuries due to lifting incorrectly would be at a minimum… Wrong! Unfortunately, musculoskeletal injuries are quite common in the work place. We all know someone with a dodgy back! Surprisingly, manual handling is a leading cause for these injuries. Let’s have a look at a few statistics…
507,000 cases of musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17 (Source: Self reports labour force survey)
Work related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) account for 39% of all work related ill health (Source: HSE website)
8.9 million Working days were lost due to WRMSD, the highest rates being in the construction industry. (Source: HSE website, 2016/17)
As we can see, these figures are too high. One of the leading causes of WRMSD’s is manual handling injuries. So how is it something that we do day in and day out causes so many problems? Let’s set a scene.
Imagine you are on a construction site. You are tasked with moving bags of cement from point A to point B. You have no manual handling aids, but luckily you have a work friend to help you. You start off with picking up one bag and carrying it to point B, but as you turn around, you spot your friend carrying 2 bags! Who proceeds to give you a cheeky wink as he walks past you. Not wanting to be out done, you summon your inner He-Man and attempt to pick up 3 bags, putting out your back in doing so.
Behavior is one of the main causes for manual handling injuries. Whether it’s because workers don’t want to ask for help as they believe it will make them look inferior or weak, can’t be bothered to lift correctly, or underestimate the lift. Just because you can lift 40 kg above your head in the gym with a nice easy to grip barbell, doesn’t mean you can easily shift four 10kg bags of sand… Hello back injury!
WRMSD’s are no laughing matter, causing serious pain to people suffering from it. Just changing your behavior and approaching loads without your ego is a good step in the right direction.
Remember, don’t be a He-Man!