Manual handling injuries account for some 40% of workplace accidents, mostly caused by incorrect lifting of loads by employees and absence of suitable lifting equipment.
While there is no prescribed weight limit for lifting heavy objects, 20kg is generally considered the maximum one person should lift on their own.
Factors to consider when lifting an object include the posture and position of the person at the time of the lift, the nature of the load, the duration of the lift and the distance the load must be carried.
Repetition is also a factor in many workplaces as reflected in a study into lifting capacity, which found that workers could comfortably lift a load once every five minutes, but could only lift half that weight on a more frequent basis.
If heavy or awkward lifting is required on a regular basis in the workplace, the employer is responsible for providing suitable lifting equipment to reduce the likelihood of a manual handling injury.
Increased awareness by workers about correct lifting procedures combined with employers more willing to provide mechanical aids to ensure safe lifting can together reduce the cost of manual handling injuries in Australia, which amounts to billions of dollars a year.
Lifting equipment available for workplaces include trolleys and pallet jacks, forklifts, engine cranes and jib cranes.
Trolleys and pallet jacks
Trolleys and pallet jacks are recommended for regular transport of loads from one area to another at the workplace as they allow a single person to move substantial loads.
Forklifts are ideal for particularly heavy loads or objects that need to be raised to a height. Available in a range of sizes and lifting capacities, forklifts can be powered by batteries, gas or diesel.
Suitable for a mechanic’s workshop or garage, engine cranes are a type of hoist used to lift engines and transmissions in and out of vehicles. Mounted on wheels or castors, the engine crane can be rolled into position and then stored out of the way when not in use.
A simple device attached at one point with a boom that swings horizontally in an arc and raises and lowers vertically, a jib crane can be fitted with a variety of lifting devices including electric chain hoists, wire rope hoists, air hoists, spring balancers and manual chain blocks. Jib cranes can relieve humans of a large number of repetitive lifting tasks and are found in many workplaces.
Lifting equipment for larger loads
Heavy duty lifting equipment needs to be employed in the workplace to handle larger or heavier loads. These include larger jib cranes, overhead cranes and mobile truck cranes, and are ideal for industries such as manufacturing and construction.
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