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The goal of this blog is to provide useful information on every aspect of workplace health - from wellness and injury prevention through to rehabilitation and recovery at work.

Manual Handling Training

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Manual Handling is rarely the most anticipated training session in the workplace. Most have heard the “lift with your legs, bend your knees, keep a straight back” spiel a hundred times before. They see a photo, receive a PowerPoint, and find a flyer image plastered on the toilet door. Manual Handling training is essential - it’s required by Workplace Health and Safety legislation - however, the truth is that generic Manual Handling Training has been shown to be ineffective.  

Believe it or not, Manual Handling training can actually be interesting, given the right presenters and attitude towards it. Our team at Actevate – all university-qualified health professionals – has a thorough, intricate understanding of anatomy and biomechanics. We don’t just present the information - we share knowledge and provide insight as to why these principles exist and how to apply them to the participant’s daily tasks. Most importantly, we are genuinely passionate about meaningful Manual Handling training and education. 

Most people only think about Manual Handling principles when they are about to lift something heavy. Lifting is definitely an important aspect of Manual Handling – muscular stress while lifting and carrying objects accounts for around 17% of all serious worker’s compensation claims1 – but there’s more to Manual Handling than just lifting. Manual Handling actually includes twisting, bending, getting into awkward positions, sustained postures, repetitive movements, and even sitting. In fact, about 22% of serious claims result from repetitive movements with low muscle loading, often where no objects are being handled.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the (obviously) physically demanding industries that have a high risk of musculoskeletal injury. For example, Retail Trade, Education and Training, and Administrative and Support Services all have high incident frequency rates and a large percentage of musculoskeletal injuries.2 Companies in these industries often overlook the importance of tailored injury prevention training and, consequently, staff are ill-equipped to manage the physical demands of their roles. Recently one of Actevate’s exercise physiologists Christy Ward took on a significant Manual Handling training project for the Upper Hunter Shire Council, based in Scone and surrounding areas. After visiting the worksite to analyse the various jobs, Christy prepared tailored training material for 8 groups, comprised of 16 different roles. 

Over a one week period, she delivered 18 on-site Manual Handling training sessions with comprehensive assessments. Here’s what a representative of the council had to say:

 “The Upper Hunter Shire Council and staff were very impressed with the sessions and the innovative way in which she re-invented the topic of manual handling. The training was received well by all staff and one month on there is still talk about the manual handling training. You don’t often get feedback like that without the energy, passion and enthusiasm in which all 18 sessions were delivered.”

 What is critical – and what we, at Actevate, pride ourselves on – is the tailored, customised, and interactive approach to injury prevention services. Put simply, companies who invest in high-quality, bespoke training will see sustained benefits, while those that settle for a ‘tick-the-box’ approach can expect, at best, modest short-term effects. 

References Australia, S. W. (2016). Australian Workers’ Compensation Statistics, 2013–14. Canberra (AUST): SWA.Australia, S.W. (2016). Statistics on Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, 2016. Canberra (AUST): SWA.

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