Comcare has told Post to review its risk assessments for manual handling following a complaint from the CWU Vic Branch. Post has been told that it needs to implement practices in relation to van loading and unloading that avoids having to lift heavy items above shoulder height.
Really! Comcare had to tell Australia Post to avoid lifting above shoulder height. There is enough information in the public domain on how to minimise manual handling hazards. Loading and unloading vans involves repetitive and sustained manual handling. There should be no lifting above shoulder height.
In short, Comcare found that a number of manual handling hazards that are common to the duties of PTOs were risk assessed. But the risk controls are primarily ‘administrative controls’ with some mechanical aids e.g. trolleys when able.
Comcare also found that induction training for van and truck drivers provided little information on types of manual handling hazards associated with the duties undertaken. There was nothing specific on boxes of wine that weigh between 12- 14 kgs. But weight is only one factor that must be considered when assessing health and safety risks. The frequency of lifts and environment are also important factors.
Instructing workers to take care or to adopt ‘perfect’ behaviour particularly, when such instructions forms the larger part of the safe system of work ignores variations in the work system that can make the controls inoperative, such as pressure to meet a delivery schedule.
Basically, Comcare found there were no effective controls to protect workers from the manual handling hazards associated with reaching above shoulder height.
Post needs to redesign this work to make it properly safe rather than just add layers of administrative controls in an attempt to patch up holes in their work design.