WorkSafe have announced that from 1 November 2008 they will be
conducting a state-wide inspection campaign targeting
musculoskeletal disorder injuries, more commonly known as manual
handling sprains and strains.
WorkSafe's Executive Director, Mr John Merritt is quoted as
saying: "Preventing injuries from manual lifting and slips,
trips and falls of less than two meters are the focus of this
campaign. These injuries accounted for more than 60% of all
workplace injury insurance claims in 2007-2008."
Mr Merritt also indicated that in many cases there were simple
mechanical solutions that could eliminate or control the risks of
musculoskeletal injuries and that unfortunately businesses were
ignorant of or reluctant to implement such measures.
Under section 21 of the Occupational Health and Safety
Act 2004 (Vic) an employer will breach their duty to provide a
safe workplace if they fail to:
provide systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably
practicable, safe and without risks to health; or
maintain, so far as is reasonably practicable, each workplace
under the employer's management and control in a condition that
is safe and without risks to health; or
provide such information, instruction, training or supervision
to employees of the employer as is necessary to enable those
persons to perform their work in a way that is safe and without
risks to health.
Further to this, Part 3.1 of the Occupational Health and
Safety Regulations 2007 (Vic) deals specifically with
employers' responsibilities in relation to manual handling.
Employers must, so far as is reasonably practicable, identify any
task undertaken involving hazardous manual handling and ensure that
any risks of a musculoskeletal disorder are eliminated so far as is
reasonably practicable. If elimination is not possible then the
employer must reduce the risk by:
altering the workplace layout, the working environment or the
systems of work used to undertake the task; or
changing the objects used in the task; or
using mechanical aids; or
any combination of the above.
In addition, an employer must review and revise any control
measures used to eliminate or reduce manual handling risks when
there are changes within the workplace to manual handling tasks or
equipment, when a musculoskeletal injury occurs or when a
notifiable incident that involves a musculoskeletal injury
WorkSafe has indicated that during its campaign it will be
issuing improvement and prohibition notices where there are safety
issues observed at workplaces and prosecution will be considered in
the case of serious breaches.
Employers should be aware of the manual handling risks within
their workplace and ensure that risk assessments have been
conducted, control measures have been implemented and staff have
been trained in manual handling.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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