Manual handling injuries account for half of all lost time injuries in the liquor retail sector. Here’s how to make your operation safer.
A recent inspection program carried out at 64 liquor retailers found manual handling is the most common hazard in the workplace, according to WorkSafe Western Australia.
Manual handling is defined as any activity that requires someone to exert force to move an object, and liquor retail employees are most at risk when moving or processing inventory such as cartons of stock.
Most injuries take the form of sprains and strains, and sales assistants between the ages of 25–34 are most likely to be affected.
Under workplace health and safety law hazardous manual tasks have to be identified and managed. Nobody wants their staff harmed by job requirements so it makes sense to identify the relevant hazards and take steps to eliminate or minimise them.
Manual handling hazards
- Moving items at above shoulder height, because the necessary posture makes the load difficult to control properly.
- Bending and twisting when moving cartons off or onto a stacking system.
- Repetitive movements and remaining in one position, when scanning stock for example, can lead to occupational overuse syndrome.
Some other factors that increase risk of sprains, strains or musculoskeletal disorders include
- the number of times the load is lifted or moved
- the distance involved
- duration of the task
- restricted space or uneven surfaces
- ease of grip on the object
- work systems used.
Mitigating these risks
Bearing the above factors in mind, retail liquor operators should look at the layout of their premises as well as how work is assigned and performed.
Some risk mitigation measures could include
- ensuring workplace layout and placement of equipment enable manual handling to be carried out in an upright stance
- managing stock levels in a way that provides adequate space around displays and storage for comfortable access
- storing heavier and frequently used items on shelves that are between knee and chest height
- providing alternative ways to reach hard to access areas, such as having a lifting platform
- managing workloads to combine repetitive tasks with non-repetitive ones or alternatively schedule frequent breaks.
Insurance and risk management
Having worker’s compensation insurance is mandatory for all business operators and needs to cover all workers on whatever basis of employment applies: full time, casual, on commission and in some cases contractors.
Gallagher not only offers workers’ compensation but its Workplace Health & Safety offering encompasses everything from safety mentoring and training through to health and wellness programs, hazard and risk profiling, and incident management and investigation.