Identification, analysis and recommendations regarding potentially high-risk lifting tasks in industry: a case study.


In examining the work environment of a major South African manufacturing concern, this paper describes a practical project of identification, analysis and recommendations regarding potentially high-risk lifting tasks. Manual materials handling-related injuries result in a significant cost to industry and manual lifting in particular represents a major cause of injury to industrial workers. Ayoub (1992) states that backache is the second most common reason for absenteeism from work, and back injuries are a major source of both lost time and compensation claims. An examination of clinic records at the plant in this case study confirmed that it is no exception to this trend. Consequently, an investigation was undertaken to identify potentially dangerous lifting tasks in the plant. In consultation with a co-responsible agent, 32 discrete positions in 18 tasks were identified for inclusion in the project. Data were collected and liftRISK analyses (Charteris and Scott, 1990) were conducted. Of the 18 tasks analysed, 8 had a very high situational risk and a further 3 had an excessive situational risk. In addition to liftRISK analyses, attenuating work environment risk factors - such as excessive carry, obstacles in the carry phase, rotation and poor underfoot stability - were noted. The most common negative contributory factor in task assessment was excessive stoop. Task modification recommendations were made on the basis of the findings

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