SAFE MATERIAL HANDLING

Forklift material handling

Why is safe material handling required?

In large warehouses, material movement in bulk is quite common. Warehouse employees move these materials using forklifts, conveyors, pallet jacks and more. etc., Often times, the movement is manual. There will be situations where individual workers carry heavy weights and they might get injured in this process. The injuries are typically musculo-skeletal which can take a long time to heal and at times the recovery becomes an expensive process for the employer. Damage to equipment and company assets can also be a bi-product of these incidents. To help mitigate and prevent this situation from happening, the workers should be trained in safe material handling techniques to avoid injuries and material damage.

Here’s some statistics that depict how improper material handling has affected people in bulk.

  • About three of every four Canadians whose job includes MMH suffer pain due to back injury at some time. More than 111,000 such injuries requiring days away from work were recorded in 2017, according to Injury Facts, an online database created by the National Safety Council.
  • About a fourth of European workers suffer from back pain, which tops the list of all reported work-related disorders.

What are some of the best practices for safe material handling?

  1. Employees should be able to assess how heavy the load is. If it is beyond individual capacity, additional help/equipment should be deployed. This helps in proper resource allocation for tasks
  2. Whenever materials are transported using forklifts or similar equipment arrangements, employees should ensure that it has a broad base so that the material container does not topple over
  3. Whenever employees need to pick materials from racks, ensure that the ladders have a firm grip and a broad base
  4. When lifting heavy objects from the ground, the employees should bend their knees and then lift the weight. The spine should be erect. The arms should always be close to the body and the object being lifted should be closer to the centre of gravity. If this is not followed, the staff can run into risks of back injuries
  5. Storage Racks storing heavy materials should be periodically monitored for wear and tear
  6. Moving equipment should always be fitted with sensors to avoid collisions on the shop floor. Materials should be secured correctly using belts/harnessing devices

How to ensure that safe material handling techniques are followed:

  • Safety related incidents can be avoided only when employees are adequately and periodically trained and supported through a culture of safety. Safety training and competency-assessments should be mandated for all employees who are involved in lifting,carrying and moving materials around.
  • Safety compliance standards and best-practises should be in place to monitor equipment and working conditions.
  • Employees should always be equipped with proper work gear, conveyors, PPE, forklifts and other aids.
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The contents of this article is provided as information-only and does not substitute workplace training, competency, legislative or industrial requirements. SET Safety and/ or the author is not responsible for the accuracy or validity of this information. SET Safety and/or the author does not accept liability for the reliability, accuracy or completeness of the information presented. This article does not substitute legal, jurisdictional or professional advice. The reader bears all responsibility to seek professional guidance or advice on any information noted in this blog or related to the content of this blog.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergonomics_for_manual_material_handling
  2. https://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/18554-manual-material-handling-and-back-injuries
  3. http://www.osha.mddsz.gov.si/resources/files/pdf/E-fact_14_-_Hazards_and_risks_associated_with_manual_handling_in_the_workplace.pdf
  4. https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/mmh/hlth_haz.html

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