The construction industry is characterised by constant lifting of heavy items. While lifting and material handling is the order of the day, we can’t disregard the risks involved. Lifting heavy equipment is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace, particularly in the construction sector in Australia.
For this reason, we’ve taken the liberty to address the importance of proper lifting and material handling in the workplace. And, we’ll give you a few tips to do it the right way. We’ll also cover aspects such as why when it comes to handling lifting equipment Adelaide company owners need to be more vigilant. Keep reading to learn more!
Proper Care of Lifting Equipment is Paramount
Before we even give you the tips regarding proper lifting and material handling, we can’t overemphasise the importance of caring for your equipment. Company owners need to ensure that their equipment is in the best possible state at all times. Regular maintenance is mandatory. You must comply with the service periods stated in your equipment operation manuals. Skipping service dates is not an option because using malfunctioning equipment is deemed an occupational hazard. Equipment must be checked for functionality. Are all the bolts and screws intact? Are the lubricated parts indeed lubricated?
Get the Necessary Training
Allowing workers to use equipment that they aren’t trained to use isn’t advisable. Operating manuals are there for a reason. Use them. Make sure that your workers are familiar with the steps to be taken and procedures to be followed when handling the equipment. Aside from the necessary training, it’s also important that they get the authorisation from their respective supervisors. The foreman in question will know whether the equipment is fully serviced and suitable for use. There’s no room for cutting corners and skipping procedures when it comes to handling heavy loads. Your workers’ lives literally depend on it.
Regular Inspection Before Use
Even after being given the go-ahead by the supervisor, workers must inspect the equipment for themselves before use. Simply because the hoist was working perfectly yesterday doesn’t mean it’s functional today. Routine inspections of all lifting equipment before use must be made mandatory. Check if the mechanism is working properly. The moment an operator notices that something is out of place, be it a screw missing or rigid operation, don’t use the machine. Rather have it inspected right away.
Make the Necessary Preparations
After inspecting the equipment, workers must take the necessary lifting preparations. Consider how heavy the load is and where it’s being taken. Is the load easier to pull or push? Will assistance be needed from another person? Is the path free from obstructions? Are there any slippery or uneven areas? Consider all angles to prevent mistakes.
Ensure Proper Handling
Once you’re satisfied that the equipment is in good working order, proper handling techniques must be incorporated to avoid muscle strain. Always make sure workers do the following:
- Wear protective equipment.
- Keep the load close to the body as much as possible.
- Avoid twisting the body while lifting or carrying the load. The nose, shoulders and toes should always face the same direction.
- Avoiding reaching.
- Always bend at the knees, rather than hips.
- Utilise the necessary handholds where possible.
- Rest in between if lifting multiple heavy items.
Consider the Weight of Objects
As you know the heavier the load, the more stress is likely to be exerted on shoulders and joints. Use the correct equipment for the load in relation to the weight. Does the load require a forklift or crane? Where possible, try to break the load into smaller quantities.
Consider the Environmental Factors
Environmental factors also play a huge role when it comes to lifting equipment. For example; cold weather decreases muscle flexibility. On the other hand, extremely hot temperatures cause heat stress and premature fatigue. It’s important that your workers wear the right clothing depending on the temperature. If it’s hot, encourage your workers to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Finally make sure that there’s adequate lighting on the construction site. Workers shouldn’t have to work in low-lighting environments. This just increases the risk of trips and falls.
Proper lifting and material handling is a collective responsibility. Everyone needs to play their part. Owners must purchase sturdy equipment from reputable companies and conduct routine inspections to ensure operational efficiency. Your workers should be provided with the correct personal protective equipment and must work in a safe environment with ample lighting. Workers must make sure they are using the right equipment for the intended task, read the operation manual and receive the correct training.
Did you find our tips useful? Be sure to incorporate them at all times and adhere to the necessary safety regulations. Your workers’ safety is your responsibility and it can save you from losing millions in civil lawsuits.