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CHAIN MAIL: Manual handling practices come under scrutiny

The overall aim is to reduce the number of work related injuries in the retail, wholesale, transport and storage industries, a move backed by WorkSafe WA commissioner Nina Lyhne.“More than 1400 Western Australians in the wholesale, retail, transport and storage sectors sustain manual handling injuries each year – many serious and long-lasting,” she said.“This campaign aims to build on preliminary studies done in Victoria that suggest that the loading and unloading of vehicles in particular is a significant safety and health issue that needs to be addressed.“The objective of the campaign is to identify the hazards that exist throughout the supply chain and assist employers to find solutions that will lessen the risk of injury.”The first phase of the campaign is underway with stakeholders in the target industries currently being consulted with regard to developing education on the subject. Later this month transport industry workers and employers will be surveyed.Early in the new year an education phase will begin – involving workshops and one-to-one visits that aim to assist the target industries to manage the risks involved in manual handling.Inspectors are due to begin their workplace audits late next year for a three-month period.The primary objective of the campaign is to provide employers with information on how to comply with the laws, but if inspectors find breaches of these laws they will take enforcement action.Lyhne said that national projects such as this were an important means of ensuring national consistency in workplace safety and health.“These national campaigns are aimed at protecting workers by ensuring employers are aware of their responsibility under the laws to minimise the risk of injury,” she said.“They are also excellent examples of cooperation between the states.“In the end, everybody gains from a higher level of awareness of workplace hazards and how to avoid injuries, particularly manual handling injuries.”Western Australia has a comprehensive code of practice on manual handling, and Lyhne encourages all workplaces that may have concerns about manual handling hazards to have a copy of the code readily available at the workplace.

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