a man using manual handling techniques to lift a boxAccording to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012, more than 50 out of every 1,000 workers sustained some type of injury in the workplace, between 2009 and 2010. In 2010-2011 more than eleven thousand people died in workplace injuries. This is nearly 2 deaths for every one hundred thousand workers.

While death and major injuries are taking place on a grand scale, still more common are injuries which take away from the workforce and cause missed days or even weeks of productive labor. In most cases, these injuries were not long lived but about 5% took twelve or more weeks to recuperate.

According to Safe Work Australia, the most common injuries are back injuries. While some back injuries come from falls on level surfaces or falls on a surface below, most are not from this type of injury.

The most common way in which a back injury is caused is from poor manual handling techniques. Overall the number of serious back injuries which came from lifting are simply something that cannot be sustained. One in five serious injuries in the workplace involves a back injury.

Work related injuries in Australia cost more than $60 billion dollars last year. This represents about 5 percent of the Australian gross national product. If most of these injuries are related to back injuries, which in turn are related to poor manual handling techniques, it stands to reason that proper lifting techniques are something in which workers need to know.

Proper lifting means taking the weight of any product that you must lift on the massive leg muscles, using correct technique to bear the weight rather than lifting with the back.

When lifting, along with taking the major portion of the weight on the larger muscles, it is necessary that those who are lifting use a broad base of support. Lifting with legs bent and slightly spread will help to prevent back injuries when lifting. Additionally, having enough help when lifting heavy items is another consideration. Never try to lift something which is obviously too heavy without proper staff support.

To learn more about proper manual handling techniques, best practices for lifting objects safely and the best way to move heavy items or to secure a safety course for your employees on lifting, view our Manual Handling Training.