Updated: May 4, 2020
Manual handling occurs in almost all work environments (hospitals 🏥, factories, warehouses,🏢 building sites, farms, offices, etc. Manual handling operations involve the transporting🚜 or supporting of a load, including the lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving of a load by the hands or through the application of bodily force. There are several risk factors that make manual handling of loads hazardous and increase the risk of injury.
Here are some tips to pass onto your co-workers on shoveling.
Use the right equipment❗ A smaller blade may mean you need a few more shovelfuls to clear the driveway but it will also prevent you from lifting more than is safe. A plastic blade will also be lighter than a metal one, reducing the total weight you need to lift. Ergonomic handles will help as well.
Warm up your body and your brain. As with any physical activity, you’re less likely to pull a muscle or overly stress your heart if you warm up and stretch first. Also do a quick mental check. If you’re in a rush, frustrated or tired, you’re much more likely to lift too much too quickly.
Dress appropriately. ☃ Good gloves, warm boots with good traction, and layered, breathable outerwear will help you maintain a comfortable working temperature. If you’re not warm enough from the start, you’ll soon be rushing to get done as quickly as possible, which can lead to shortcuts and injuries. If you’re too hot, fatigue will set in early.
Plan ahead🕐🕑. Pay attention to the weather forecast the night before so you can get up early in case you need to shovel before work. Waking up to a major snowfall the morning of your big meeting is sure to create some rushing and frustration that could lead to a fall or a strained back. Also, before you jump right in with shovelling, test your footing to determine how heavy the snow is. Sometimes that first lift is deceiving and there may be ice under the snow. Think about what an injury would mean to your day, your week or possibly the rest of your life!!!
Pace yourself during shoveling activities. Take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water🥛🥛 . Snow shoveling is strenuous work, and it is important to re-hydrate your body often. It’s also a good time to re-assess where you’re at mentally (e.g., Is fatigue setting in?, Are you getting frustrated?).
Throw snow forward, tossing snow over your shoulder or twisting your torso to toss snow to the side can compromise your posture.❌
Push when possible. Pushing snow is less taxing than lifting it, so push it when possible. But watch out for bumps and cracks that can catch the edge of the shovel and send you off-balance or painfully introduce your torso to a shovel handle.
Stay alert and out of the way. Winter has the shortest days, so a lot of shovelling happens in the dark. When working near a road or street, snowplows🚒 or other vehicles may not see you and it could be difficult for you to gauge where your driveway ends and the shoulder of the road begins. Keep the earbuds 🎧 in the house🏠 and face the road so you can hear and see what might be coming your way.
Check your complacency. Especially as you get older, there will come a time when you need to change what you do. Just because you used to be able to handle a driveway full of snow❄⛄ doesn’t mean you can this year. Go easy at first and if you’re finding it more difficult ask yourself if the risk of injury is worth it or whether you should get some help.
Snowblowers require attention. Snowblowers can drastically reduce the amount of snow you need to move on your own, but they’re also heavy machinery and you can strain your back if you move or lift it incorrectly. And, of course, the moving blades create an additional hazard❌⚠ to be aware of.