Re-think on meat handling

THERE are no maximum weight limits allowed for manual handling, but according to Industrial Conveying Australia, it is possible to minimise the risks of manual handling injuries by changing handling systems over to automated systems.

Currently, materials handling sectors and meat and poultry processors are cutting and packing stock into 27kg portions for dispatch.

The portion weight limit is a remnant of pre-1990 safety guidelines which are no longer applicable.

A variety of factors affect safe manual handling, such as the lifting height, the posture of the body and the frequency of the lift.

Some meat and poultry processors are taking to changing the portion limits to 19kg in an attempt to stave off the problems associated with manual handling injuries.

This solution is untenable because of two reasons. Firstly, even lifting a lighter load could still result in injuries if the manual handling technique is incorrect.

Secondly, stepping down the portion size would mean meat handlers would have to work 33% harder on manual handling to achieve the same output as previously.

Additionally, infrastructure and equipment would have to be changed to accomodate the new sizes.

ICA advices companies to retain the 27kg solution, but take manual handling out of the equation by adding automated materials handling solutions.

The conveying company also claims meat sorting sector could benefit from upgrading to automation.

Modern sorting technology is automated, and a business will always remain behind if it uses only manual sorting.

Conveyer belts, control, radio frequency identification and sensing equipment could add speed and efficiency to operations.

Note: This article has been edited as per advice from OH&S professionals. The editor apologises for any misinformation or misconception caused by the previous version which was based on outdated and incorrect information.

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