Reducing the risk of muscle and joint injuries

Heavy machinery parts manufacturer Real Steel identified a number of hazards in its business, including manual lifting injuries.

The Upper Hutt-based company engaged its 33 workers in creating its ‘top ten risks register’ and implemented a number of measures including increased signage and a rolling awareness-raising programme, focusing on two risks each month.

A company workshop on manual lifting used a skeleton to demonstrate how the spine works during lifting; a whiteboard enables people to proactively highlight issues, with a deadline set for resolving them; and a quarterly health and safety innovation award encourages workers to raise issues and promote recognition that everyone has responsibility for health and safety.

“We’ve had a significant reduction on manual lifting injuries,” said health and safety manager Robert Smith. “Our goal is zero manual lifting injuries and 100 per cent reporting. People feel comfortable raising concerns and pick each other up if they aren’t doing things safely - like trying to manually lift something over 25 kg. There’s real recognition of the potentially harmful consequences if you don’t follow procedures.”