A new product is about to be launched which could reduce the risk of removal men and lorry drivers suffering back injuries while handling heavy crates.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2010 more than a third of injuries resulting in an absence from work of over three days were caused by incorrect manual handling. Almost half (45 per cent) of handling injuries affect the back.
Many people who work in the relocation industry will be aware how their job can put their back under strain. So they will be heartened to hear that a British-based company has designed and launched a crate which is safer to handle.
The Weight Crate is the brainchild of Essex-based Consortia Products. It features a unique thermometer-style weighing device which can tell workers how heavy a crate is before they attempt to lift it.
There are two major advantages to the invention. Firstly, it will allow workers to be prepared to lift especially-heavy loads. Secondly, it will allow workers to safely place the heaviest crates at the bottom of stacks of crates.
Apart from the weight-measuring thermometer the crates look identical to other crates. The device can be ‘retro-fitted’ to older crates and, handily, has no electrical components and does not require servicing.
The Weight Crate was designed specifically with the relocation industry in mind. However, it is expected that the retail and food sectors will also benefit from the new product.
Employers should not see the invention as an excuse to neglect health and safety at work. Should your employer decide that you need to carry out manual handling duties at work they should conduct a risk assessment to minimise the chance of injury.
Every employer should also supply workers with manual handling training whenever appropriate to avoid unnecessary injury.
Causes of back injuries
Even if your work does not involve manual handling, there is a risk of developing back injuries. Insufficient training and poorly-organised work stations can lead to bad posture and back injuries.
Lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of lumbago – the name given to lower back pain.
According to the NHS Choices website:
•One in five people will visit their doctor each year due to back pain
•Four out of five adults will experience back pain at some time in their life
•One in every ten people report having some form of chronic back pain
It is worrying that the rates of reported cases of back pain in England have doubled over the past 40 years.
Reasons for increase
The NHS Choices website reports that this increase could be linked to increasing incidences of obesity, stress and depression. All these conditions raise the risk of suffering back pain.
However, you shouldn’t despair if you are suffering from back pain. An Australian study found that 73 per cent of people who reported suffering back pain to their doctor were pain-free within a year.