Hazardous Lifting

Presently I enjoy my lifestyle. A big part of that comes from not just being healthy, but being fit and capable of enjoying various active pursuits. In particular, competing in endurance sports. Some of the reasoning behind my new push to develop fitness to be useful and for life comes from my job. Suffering an injury from my work could negatively impact on the rest of my life. I'd like to do the best that I can to avoid this.

Working as a Paramedic exposes me to a certain number of risks. Following is a list taken from the Worksafe Victoria website.

The most common causes of injuries reported by emergency services workers include:

  • manual handling
  • motor vehicle accidents
  • physical assault
  • exposure to hazardous substances and dangerous goods
  • stress
  • psychological trauma
  • falls from height
  • slips, trips and falls
  • electrocution
  • fatigue
  • being hit or crushed by objects
  • burns
  • bullying

Through my physical training the area that I can have the most affect on is manual handling.

The following is again taken from Worksafe:

Manual handling means using your body to exert force to handle, support or restrain any object, including people or animals. It is not just lifting or carrying heavy objects; it includes: lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, lowering, throwing, carrying, packing, typing, assembling, cleaning, sorting and using tools. The term is not limited to handling heavy objects – pruning plants, stacking items onto a shelf, helping a patient into a bath and even using a keyboard are all examples of manual handling.

Hazardous manual handling involves:

  • repetitive or sustained application of force, awkward postures or movements
  • tasks that people would find difficult due to the degree of force applied (high force)
  • exposure to sustained vibration
  • manual handling of live people or animals
  • manual handling of unstable loads that are difficult to grasp or hold.

All of the above categories of hazardous manual handling (except for sustained vibration) apply to my work. Most patients we lift are alive (hopefully). Some are obese, are in confined spaces, are on uneven/unstable terrain, loads are often unstable. There are ideal ways to lift. We have a good array of equipment for many situations. We often get extra help when able. The problem is that there are plenty of situations where we cannot lift in an ideal way.

Cars that have rolled over. People are stuck in small bathrooms behind the door. Driveways are too steep for the ambulance to drive up. Some people are just too big to fit. Patients will suddenly grab hold of the railing when being carried down stairs. These are only a few examples of what pose a dangerous lift.

Therefore, I need to ensure that my body is conditioned appropriately to limit the risk of injury. This is part of the reason that I am now including a wide variety of functional weightlifting in my training. I have moved away from isolation style exercises. By building a strong and functional musculature, hopefully I can reduce my injury risk. By increasing my work capacity in training to well above the demands of my job. Then any lift attempted at work should be well within my capabilities. This in turn should result in the lift not exceeding the capacity to remain stable, or exceed the loading limits of connective tissues. Fatigue should be reduced, which will also reduce the likelihood of poor technique.


  1. Jason,

    How do think being exposed with trauma/accidents at work effects your day to day life. Are you overly cautious regarding risks as you know what can happen? How do you deal with cycling on the roads? Does it worry you? I am thinking hard about whether I want to be a cyclist long term due to the risks associated with riding in traffic etc.

    BTW - great run on the weekend!


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