Material Handling Safety How to Train Staff and Foster a Culture of Safety

materials handling worker carries case of wineMaterial handling requires the safe movement and control of materials in the workplace. It refers to manual material handling as well as mechanical handling.

As manual material handling is the leading cause of occupational fatigue, such as back pain and lower back injuries, it’s vital that your company, job site or organization have a proactive approach to material handling.

Material Handling Safety – Background

worker pulls pallet truck materials handlingThe basic categories are manual material handling and mechanical handling.

Manual handling requires workers to physically lift and move items. Manual materials handling (MMH) is a blanket occupational healthy & safety term that refers to moving or handling objects; specifically in a manner that would include:

  • lifting
  • carrying
  • pushing or pulling
  • holding or carrying

With mechanized handling, material movement is aided by belts, lifts or other mechanized devices.

Culture of Safety for Material Handling

forklift in warehouse materials handlingTo avoid injury, it is essential to have effective training programs in place for both types of handling methods.

The best training results are fostered with a workplace culture that consistently puts safety first.

A workplace with poorly trained staff, or a workplace without management commitment to a strong safety program has a greater risk of material handling injury.

Types of injuries can vary and often result in long-lasting health issues for employees and a higher cost of workers compensation for the business.

A culture of safety is a proven approach to engage every employee in the methods to properly handle materials. A culture of safety means the entire organization is committed to reducing the risk of workplace accidents.

Teamwork is Vital for Safe Material Handling

A “safety first” message must start at the top, as senior management sets the tone by investing in the safety infrastructure.

Teamwork is essential for workplace safety and the team requires strong leadership. Managers and supervisors lead the way, but it is the responsibility of every employee to follow the necessary safety procedures to protect themselves and others from injury.

worker pulls boxes down from shelf materials handlingEvery employee that is involved in any way with material handling must be aware of the safety risks and proper handling methods.

Leadership is essential in fostering a strong safety culture and includes employee involvement in the education and training process.

Effective communication across the organization is key component of a safety culture. Communication of safety goals starts at the top, but is reinforced daily in the work activity by staff.

Workers provide valuable feedback on actual safety conditions and this feedback should be shared openly.

A safety culture is all about shared responsibility. The open communication and continuous training approach are the shared responsibility of the entire team.

Effective Training for Material Handling Safety

Effective training results in reduced safety risks and an overall reduction in workplace injuries.

Management’s commitment to training budget resources along with an environment that promotes open communication creates the foundation for a culture of safety. An environment where every level of the organization shares the responsibility for a safe workplace.

An effective training program is the core tool to create the shared culture of safety. The proper methods of material handling are to be understood by all and reinforced daily.

Proactive Approach for Material Handling

The actual training courses are often conducted with new hire orientation and annual refresher courses.

In some situations, specific conditions may require a form of “all hands” training, or special communication when changed conditions require risk awareness throughout the workplace. Line managers and supervisors must be in a supportive, teaching mode every day.

A culture of safety means responsive encouragement towards safe material handling occurs every day throughout the organization.

Contact us today to find out how Advanced Training & Consulting can help you strengthen your organization’s culture of safety through material handling training and consulting for proactive safety.