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Near-miss: Manual handling in the office

A member has reported a near miss incident in which a box of fluorescent tubes very nearly fell on someone’s head. The incident occurred in an office location when someone was searching for something in a store room. An unmarked cardboard box, initially used for folders delivery, was stored on a high top shelf (above eye level for the average person). As the box was moved, a fluorescent tube started sliding from the box towards the face and eyes of the person moving the box. On the end of this type of the tube there were two contact pins, which could have caused serious injury to the face and eyes. The quick reactions of the person meant that this was narrowly avoided – nothing fell and there were no injuries.

The person involved sought further assistance, and using a ladder, the box was sealed up, appropriately marked as containing fluorescent tubes, and moved to a safer location at floor level.

Box as stored on high shelf
Box as stored on high shelf
Open box with fluorescent tubes
Open box with fluorescent tubes
Box appropriately sealed and labelled
Box appropriately sealed and labelled

Our member’s investigation noted the following:

  • The person involved used improper manual handling techniques, trying to move box from the top shelf position without any assistance and without using a ladder, which was available in the store room;
  • The fluorescent tubes were stored in an unsafe way in an open unmarked cardboard box on the top shelf.

Our member took the following actions:

  • Ensured that clear responsibility for the store room was properly assigned;
  • Prohibited access to the store room without that responsible person being present;
  • Reviewed contents of store room and ensured that all items in the store room were properly marked, closed and stored in a safe and appropriate manner to prevent any further potential falling and/or moving of stored items. Unnecessary items were disposed of or sent away for storage elsewhere;

Members may wish to review:

Members may wish to refer to the following similar incident (key words: dropped, fluorescent, tube):

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