Pushing and pulling objects, no matter their weight, can equally cause strain to your joints and risk of injury if best practices aren’t followed.
Some of the common challenges faced when pushing or pulling objects include:
- Hand and wrist pain
Caused when there’s difficulty in finding the correct grasp on the object, when you have poor joint protection or when you’re required to complete the action over a long stretch of time.
- Shoulder pain
Caused when you’re required to pull at an angle, which can lead to shoulder abduction and head rotation.
Due to having to work too fast, or with a workload that’s too full.
Such risks are heightened when working under certain conditions, including:
- If you have poor traction when moving around the space or negotiating corners
- If you’re forced to stoop to maintain control of the trolley you’re pushing (often due to the height of the handle)
- If the design of the machine interface is not well suited to you (being too rough, smooth, large, small, flat or curved can cause stress on your hand)
To ensure you can perform pushing and pulling movements safely, there are a few key things to consider:
Is there a way to reduce the weight of the item being moved?
It’s important not to overexert yourself when completing manual tasks so you can prevent yourself from becoming fatigued or injured. With this in mind, consider the pacing of the tasks you’re working on. Do the loads need to be moved consistently, one after another, or can you alternate between this task and a lighter one to give yourself time to rest?
- Additional aids
Could the process be automated or motorised?
Is the equipment you’re using (such as the trolley or truck) well maintained? Do you have good steering control? Are any of the wheels jammed? And is the equipment fitted with wheels that can handle the terrain and load?
Would padded gloves make it more comfortable to complete the task? Can the handles on your trolley be modified in any way?
Will there be any obstacles for you to move around while transporting the load? If you’re going to be passing through any doorways, is it possible to have the doors left open/automated for ease of transport? Where this isn’t possible, you might consider asking a teammate to hold the door open for you.