Be safe in the workplace so you can enjoy your holiday

As the Christmas season approaches, many Australians will be looking forward to spending time off work with their family and enjoying the holidays. But it is also time to be safe. According to a November 20 press release from Denise Cosgrove, chief executive of the Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA), 25 per cent of the 117 Victorians who died in the workplace since 2009 did so in the months of November and December.

She notes that demanding schedules and a desire to rush through work during this period can lead to poor practices, as safety is brushed to the side in an attempt to finish work quickly.

With this in mind, the VWA has launched Jobs at Home Day, a initiative to celebrate the jobs we do at home a reminder to be safe in the workplace and to get safely home at Christmas. It offers people the chance to print out customised labels that signify their “job” at home – things such as Bathtime Lifeguard and Primary Pooch Walker – and wear them to work on December 5.

Ms Cosgrove says these are a reminder of the important roles that people play in their own household, and an important reason to maintain safe practices in the workplace. While the office environment may not seem like an overtly dangerous space, there are still injury risks that should be addressed.

Protecting your back 

The VWA has identified the injury hot spots for a diverse range of industries in Victoria, allowing people to be aware of the risks they face, and ideally mitigate them. For each industry, causes of injuries are identified and safety solutions offered.

One of the most significant workplace injuries for office employees is back muscle strain, which can occur when heavy materials are lifted. A number of alternatives to lifting by hand are suggested, including the use of scissor lift trolleys. This can help prevent workers from over-exerting themselves and trying to lift heavy packages and equipment.

The use of hand trolleys is also recommended, in particular when bulky/heavy objects must be transported to or from a vehicle. Sliding objects is also recommended, as this cuts out some of the lifting.

When goods are taken in and out of storage or transported on and off-site, the VWA also recommends having appropriate materials handling and transport equipment close by. This could be employees parking a car as close to access points as possible, making use of a goods lift, or making sure building design is appropriate for people who must carry heavy loads.

These risks do exist all year around, but as Ms Cosgrove stated, the Christmas rush can increase the chances of a workplace injury. By implementing appropriate safety practices and making sure the right equipment is used in the workplace, Victorians will minimise injuries and maximise their happy holidays.