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What Types of Manual Workplace Tasks Are Considered Hazardous?

Before you can prevent musculoskeletal disorders from developing, you must first determine exactly what types of manual tasks are most hazardous.

Hazards often occur when a worker is using equipment in a specific way, when certain types of equipment gets used in the workplace, and when the workplace is not as safe as it could have been.

How To Identify Tasks That Are Most Hazardous?

If you want to identify tasks that are the most hazardous, the best thing to do is speak to your workers.

These individuals have firsthand knowledge of manual tasks that cause them the most discomfort, along with manual tasks that are not bothersome at all.

Go Over The Information You Have Received

Your workers are the most reliable source when you are looking for information pertaining to manual tasks and their risk of causing musculoskeletal disorders.

Do not hesitate to talk to your workers and ask them important questions. Some of the questions that you should consider asking workers include:

  • What types of tasks are most complicated for you to complete?
  • Which tasks make you feel tired and sore?
  • Are there any tasks that feel uncomfortable and awkward for you?
  • Do you experience pain after completing certain tasks?

You may want to print a survey that contains these and other important questions for workers to review. The answers to these surveys will give you a lot of valuable information that you can gather and use to your advantage.

In addition to using the information provided to you by respondents that take the survey, you may also want to go through the information that you already have available at your fingertips.

Such valuable information would include incident reports that involve problems workers have had when using certain equipment or performing certain types of manual tasks and reports provided by inspectors.

You can have inspections performed by safety consultants that can let you know if there are certain changes you should make to stay compliant while creating a safer workplace for your employees.

Keep An Eye Out For Potential Trends

Upon collecting assorted information, make sure you are taking extra time to review that information because you might come across a few different trends.

While reviewing the information, you should easily be able to identify certain tasks that are more hazardous based on their characteristics.

You might notice that workers in specific areas that handle certain tasks have a greater risk of musculoskeletal disorders based on the number of incident reports that you have received over the years.

If you are noticing such a serious and problematic pattern, the area in which these individuals are working might not be completely safe. The trends that are identified could help you decide if changes need to take place.

Watch What Goes on When Manual Tasks Are Completed

Not only should you take the time to speak to workers, review incident reports, and gather as much information as possible, but you should also monitor your workers to see what they are doing when completing different manual tasks.

Observing the way that these individuals work is the best way for you to get even more insight. You should watch workers completing any tasks that involve:

  • Motions that are repeated 
  • Sudden and immediate/random force
  • Awkward and unusual posture and positions
  • Constant exposure to strong vibrations

You should be aware of the following situations:

  • A complete change in the workplace environment
  • New tasks that must be properly and efficiently handled
  • Tasks that must be completed with the use of heavy machinery or specific tools and equipment
  • Workers that have made changes to the way that they complete certain tasks due to the discomfort they were experiencing beforehand

What Are the Primary Characteristics of Tasks That Are Hazardous?

The characteristics of a specific manual task is what can make it more hazardous for workers. This includes the following:

Tasks Completed with Force

Some tasks are completed with force. Repeatedly completing these tasks can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. Some of these tasks would include:

  • Picking up heavy objects and loading them onto a pallet
  • Laying bricks with cement
  • Constantly pushing down on an object when completing a specific task
  • Attempting to remove materials from objects

Sustained Force

If an individual is repeatedly completing a task, it is considered a sustained force. Some of these movements include:

  • Regularly holding or pushing a button
  • Constantly lifting and carrying heavy objects
  • Pushing a heavy laundry cart or hospital bed

These are just a few examples of manual tasks that require sustained force.

High Force

The high force tasks are often the most demanding. Workers that complete these tasks may often complain about how difficult and challenging they are. Some of the high force tasks that workers may complete include:

  • Pushing heavy objects
  • Lifting and pulling a heavy object down from a high shelf
  • Attempting to restrain someone or something

Some high force tasks must be completed by stronger individuals. There are times when these types of tasks would need to be completed by multiple people because of how challenging they are.

Sudden Force

In some workplace environments, sudden force may occur. Sudden force involves random movements that happen at unexpected times.

These tasks are often hazardous because the worker is not expecting the sudden shift in movement. Some examples of sudden force tasks include:

  • Catching a heavy object that falls
  • Working with a scared animal that is jittery
  • Restraining individuals that can make sudden movements

Sudden force can happen in many workplace environments, including construction sites, hospitals, and veterinary offices.

Repetitive Movements

If an individual is repeating the same movements throughout the workday, those manual tasks can take a toll on the body. Some examples of these tasks include:

  • Lifting products and packaging them
  • Reaching for products on shelves
  • Painting walls and other surfaces

Some repeated movements are unavoidable because they are simply part of a person’s daily tasks.

Scaffolding is a profession where performing hazardous tasks is part and parcel of the job. As a result, health and safety should be at the top of the priority without question or compromise.

If you are looking for knowledgeable and experienced scaffolders, who have leading-hands that work together with you and offer expert advice not only on scaffolding but also health and safety, please contact us at Skelscaff today on 1300 266 607 or contact us via our website.