Over 280 claims from manual order picking injuries occur in Victoria each year, at a cost of $11.5 million. And that’s just the recorded claims. The true figures are much higher. Given the size of the problem and the nature of the risk,
WorkSafe Victoria is determined to help reduce accidents and provide clarity around the general principles of manual order picking and the work practices, workplace layout and equipment you need to comply with to meet WorkSafe requirements. These requirements apply not only to your employees, but also to any temporary staff and labour hire person you employ – whose safety you are equally responsible for. In June 2003 an Order Picking Solutions Workshop was held, involving 140 people from the warehousing industry – including representatives from industry associations, employers, employees and employee organisations, suppliers, labour hire companies, safety inspectors, ergonomists and health and safety representatives.
This Guide shows WorkSafe’s expectations and includes the results of that Solutions Workshop. It’s designed for employers, employees and employee organisations, subcontractors, labour hire staff, warehouse managers, suppliers, customers, designers and installers, logistics and operations managers, health and safety representatives, employee representatives, industry consultants, rehabilitation providers, legal practitioners, auditors, WorkSafe inspectors and others.
THE BEST WORKING ZONE – BETWEEN THE SHOULDERS AND KNEES
The key to safe manual order picking is to design your workplace and provide the necessary equipment, to ensure your employees are able to lift items from locations between shoulder and knee height at all times. This, together with ensuring the item is close to their body, is the optimal position when lifting. And can help significantly reduce the number of injuries. In addition to the height at which the load is presented to the employee, other risk factors include picking frequency, the weight of the object, the shape of the object and over-reaching.
THE 7 KEY PRINCIPLES FOR MANUAL ORDER PICKING
- high volume picking and packing should be done predominantly by mechanical means
- physical changes to workplace design, layout and plant are more effective than administrative controls to make the workplace safer
- high frequency picking and replenishing should occur within the Best Working Zone
- heavy objects should be handled within the Best Working Zone
- no employee should be required to routinely pick, replenish, manually stretch-wrap or palletise objects above their head height
- where employees work at height, then the equipment used to raise them should provide close access to the objects at heights and help ensure protection against the risk of falls
- adequate access to objects should be provided when picking, replenishing, palletising and stretch-wrapping – so awkward postures are minimised.
PICK RATES AND OTHER WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Warehouse management practices (such as setting work rates, shift lengths including overtime and use of engineered standards or bonus systems) must not promote excessive work rates, poor manual handling or discourage the taking of appropriate breaks.