A high volume producer of copper wire, reported several back injuries over a period of months, although, in previous years, the area had reported very few. Investigation showed considerable manual handling of empty and full reels of copper wire using lifting straps; this included the lifter bending and twisting. Once out of the machine full reels of copper wire were rolled along the floor, using the foot, to a pallet onto which they were lifted by hand. Recently the workers had changed their method of working and were loading the pallet with two or three layers of reels, requiring more lifting while in a bent position. It was assessed that this was a contributing factor to the back injuries suffered by operatives. Following discussion with the workers, safety representatives and a HSE inspector about how to redesign the work; the company worked with a lifting aids manufacturer to develop engineered solutions for three tasks. Specifically:
As a result, manual lifting has been virtually eliminated, the number of times a reel has to be handled has been significantly reduced and the workers say that the changes have made the task much safer, easier and quicker - which has reduced the risk of back injuries.