Wood Products Industry's Manual Handling Injuries Get Agency's Attention

The WorkCover Authority of New South Wales, Australia, issued a safety alert Aug. 2 that cited more than 700 injuries and 1,965 worker's compensation claims in 2008-2010.

The WorkCover Authority of New South Wales, Australia, issued a safety alert Aug. 2 directed to the wood products manufacturing industry after identifying it as one of the state's highest-risk industries. The alert asks employers in the industry to make safe manual handling a priority.

More than 700 injuries and 1,965 worker's compensation claims in 2008-2010 at a cost of $19.5 million to the NSW worker's compensation scheme prompted the alert, according to the agency.

Wood products businesses manufacture products including wooden doors and windows, roof trusses and wall frames, and kitchen cabinets. WorkCover has identified manual tasks in these workshops as one of the top safety issues businesses need to address.

"The manufacture of wooden doors and windows, roof trusses and wall frames, kitchen cabinets and joineries involves a lot of manual handling, increasing the likelihood of workers getting injured," said John Watson, general manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division. "A number of manual handling risks have been identified in these workplaces, including poorly designed delivery and dispatch areas, working at the wrong height while manufacturing and assembling products, and manually moving timber and products through the workshop. Despite these risks, we believe manual handling injuries are preventable and businesses can do more to create safer workplaces.

"To help local businesses, we have developed a Wood Safety CD which features practical tools and tips to avoid injuries," he added. "Every worker should return home safely, and WorkCover Inspectors are working with wood manufacturing businesses to help them reduce workplace injuries and illnesses and improve injury management."

A Safety Kit for the wood industry is available at www.workcover.nsw.gov.au, along with information on the agency’s Safety Coach Program and small business rebates.

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