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How to Prevent Common Injury Hazards at Work


  • Reduce manual handling as much as possible.
  • Store objects at waist height in order to reduce the need to lift from overhead or to bend and lift.
  • Continually educate workers with regard to work health safety policies and procedures.
  • Identify tasks and the potential for workers to perform repetitive tasks whereby the same muscle, tendon or joint is used repetitively. Adopt strategies to prevent any repetitive use of a muscle, joint or tendon.

Ensure workers:

  • Reduce the size and weight of objects as much as possible noting of course that this reduction does not necessitate excessive repetition of lifting these small weight objects.
  • Ensure work deadlines are realistic and obtainable and also facilitate sufficient rest breaks.
  • Keep work areas clean.

Note that work areas also include work car parks, entrances and access areas to the workplace including footpaths, stairs etc.
To help prevent workplace injury, consider the services of an occupational therapist to undertake workplace task assessment in relation to the employment tasks at hand.

Construction Industry

The most common areas for musculoskeletal injuries for construction workers include the leg, knee and back.

Leg injuries are usually caused by tripping, slipping or stepping off from a height etc.

Knee injuries are usually caused by tripping down from ladders/ heights, slipping on uneven or wet surfaces or kneeling down for long periods of time.
Back injuries are usually caused by repetitively handling material or equipment, assuming an unnatural posture, or excessively bending or lifting material or equipment that is too heavy.

General Tips for the Construction Industry

  • Use mechanical devices that can assist in the loading of heavy materials. These machines include forklifts, mechanical hoists, cranes etc.
  • Order material in smaller units. For example, order a 20kg bag of cement as opposed to 30kg.
  • Ensure that workers have access to and know how to use personal protective equipment such as knee protection pads, gloves etc.
  • Ensure that you rotate the manual tasks performed by workers to avoid a worker injuring a particular joint, muscle or tendon group.
  • Continually train your staff with respect to how to safely handle materials, equipment or tools.
  • Ensure that staff are adequately trained with regard to the use of safety equipment or how to safely handle awkwardly shaped material.
  • Create and maintain a work environment whereby workers can and do report unsafe work conditions.


The most common musculoskeletal areas that are injured in the manufacturing industry include the back, shoulder and forearm. Injuries are sustained in these areas as a result of:

  • Repetitive bending, pulling or pushing;
  • Lifting material that is too heavy;
  • Working in an awkward or unnatural position; and / or
  • Repetitively using the same muscle, joint or tendon.

General tips for manual handling in the manufacturing industry

  • Ensure workers utilise the best working zone when manually handling materials. This best working zone is between the mid-thigh and shoulder area. Workers should also ensure, where possible, that their elbows are kept close to their body when performing manual tasks.
  • Limit work that is performed either above shoulder height or at a distance away from the body. The use of height-adjustable workstations or use of appropriately installed scaffolding will ensure that a worker’s body is best positioned to help avoid injury.
  • Ensure that ladders have a point of contact at all times and have been placed on an even and stable surface.
  • If workers do have to work at heights that are above shoulder height, ensure that workers have access to and know how to safely use, height access equipment such as mobile platforms or steps with handrails.
  • Workers should not manually lift hardwood pallets.


The most common musculoskeletal areas that are injured in the retail industry include the forearm/wrist/hand, shoulder and back. The injuries occur as a result of muscle strain caused by lifting objects that are too heavy or awkward, repetitive movements using the same muscle, joint or tendon or fractures sustained by slipping.

General tips for manual handling in the retail industry

  • Ensure the workplace environment is designed in a manner to avoid excessive pushing, pulling or carrying of equipment such as bins.
  • The service counter should be designed to be positioned at a height between the worker’s hip and waist.
  • Ensure that storage, racks or shelving is designed in a manner to facilitate easy access.
  • Educate staff how to use mechanical aids that will assist staff in transporting or accessing material such as a trolley.


The most common musculoskeletal areas that are injured in the healthcare industry include the knee, shoulder or back.

The injuries occur as a result of:

  • lifting or assisting patients;
  • moving heavy objects such as trolleys;
  • bending or assuming an awkward position while moving items of furniture or equipment;
  • falling or slipping while cleaning.

General tips for manual handling in the retail industry

  • Ensure workers are educated to, and have access to, mechanical handling aids to assist in lifting or moving patients. Such mechanical aids include hoists, ceiling hoists, wheeled equipment, overhead tracking etc.
  • The workplace environment should be designed in such a manner so that the need for pushing or pulling equipment is reduced.
  • A lifting aid or trolley should be used by workers when moving equipment that is heavy or awkward to manually manoeuvre.
  • Ensure that all equipment is adequately maintained and fit for its intended purpose.