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Manual Handling

Manual handling risks at top of union agenda in parcels expansion facilities

Readers will be aware of the hundreds of millions of dollars that Australia Post has spent or are investing in new parcel sorting machinery at dedicated facilities in Melbourne and Sydney.  Unfortunately, despite numerous requests to engineer out all manual handling risks, Australia Post is still dragging the chain and talking about “administrative controls”.

The contentious area still under discussion is the “bull ring” take-off array that will be processing the majority of large and heavy parcels at the new facilities in Melbourne and Sydney. Current Safe Operating Procedures (SOPs) involve removing gates from ULDs and suggest two people lift a heavy/oversize parcel together and walk into the ULD and then both bend knees and place parcel down. This is a physical impossibility in a ULD that is only a meter wide. These SOPs are “administrative controls”.

Due to the nature of the new parcel sorting equipment, smaller/lighter parcels will not make it to the bull ring array as these will be placed into bags/ ULDs without being physically handled by staff. Many Parcels will also be sent direct to loose load. Obviously this will result in the majority of parcels sent to the bull ring array being larger and heavier parcels.

Australia Post finally acknowledged this at the last National Consultative meeting. Your union has suggested ceiling attached vacuum lifters as shown below:

At this stage Australia Post seem very reluctant to introduce such a system but with nearly 2 million cases of wine processed through Melbourne and Sydney every year, not to mention parcels containing goods such as brake disks and up to 30 or so books weighing close to 32kgs all being processed through the bull ring, a solution that eliminates manual handling risks is required.

The machinery is due to go online later this year so action is needed as soon as possible. Another meeting is scheduled for June 30th and readers will be kept informed of developments. If agreement is unable to be reached soon we will be examining all options.

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