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October 11, 2012
LIFE at sea provides a unique and challeng-
ing work environment, with everyday activ-
ities such as manual handling and transit-
ing between decks offering additional and
When examining manual handling injuries, focus
is often placed on the weight of the object being
moved and whether it is a repetitive task.
However, some injuries are caused by a lack of
common sense, communication and awareness of
In a recent incident, a sailor suffered a serious
crush injury to their index finger while folding up a
portable table for stowage.
The member did not identify the potential for
injury and placed their finger in the table's leg stor-
age cavity. The finger was subsequently crushed
between the table legs and top during closure.
The sailor was transferred via boat to hospital for
In another manual handling incident, a sailor
badly bruised a finger while transferring a cylinder
The sailor passed the cylinder to a member above
who placed the cylinder down on the sailor's fingers,
which were resting on top of the hatch combing.
Poor communication between the members was
considered a contributing factor.
These incidents serve as reminders that hazards
are present during manual handling tasks and the
potential for crush injuries needs to be assessed, con-
trolled and communicated.
If personnel experience pain during the conduct of
manual handling tasks they are advised to stop what
they are doing, make the load safe and report to their
Sailors who fail to report injuries and continue
with tasks despite pain, risk long-term injury.
While engaging in manual handling tasks, person-
nel are reminded to assess the load, avoid unneces-
sary bending twisting or reaching, get a firm grip,
maintain good posture, lift with the knees and use
mechanical lifting aids or team lifts wherever pos-
Slips, trips and falls
To reduce the chances of a slip, trip or fall, main-
tain three points of contact while using stairwells and
Regular footwear checks are encouraged to ensure
they are in good condition and provide sufficient grip.
Higher sea states also significantly increase the
chances of an incident or injury and make transiting
between decks a far more difficult proposition.
In a recent incident, a member fractured a leg
while transiting the ship in rough seas.
The member was lifted upwards and landed with
severe force after the vessel hit a large wave.
They received first aid at the scene and were later
transported to hospital.
While moving between decks another member
lost their footing and fell down 13 steps, resulting in
a partial loss of consciousness and a trip to hospital.
The member was distracted as they began mak-
ing their way down and the loss of focus along with
moisture on the handrail were viewed as possible
The Directorate of Navy Safety Systems provides this page
in the interests of promoting safety in Navy and keeping
the load, avoid
a firm grip,
lift from the
knees and use
lifts or team
for at sea
Continuing with Navy
Safety's most unwanted
series, this edition focuses on
manual handling incidents and
slips, trips and falls.
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