Materials Handling Safety: Lift Up Your Workplace Safety Program

workers lifting a boxOne of the more overlooked aspects of workplace safety is materials handling.

Why is this the case?

For some, materials handling safety may not seem to have the same level of urgency or potential for significant injury. But nothing could be further from the truth.

In this edition of the Advanced Consulting & Training blog, we’ll explore materials handling safety and why your worksite or organization should be handling these workplace safety concerns with a high priority.

Why Materials Handling Safety Matters

man with back injuryMaterials handling is one of the primary contributors to workplace injuries.

It’s not just about ergonomics, either, though that is not to overlooked.

Materials handling safety incorporates two distinct but related categories:

  • Materials Handling (of equipment, gear and structure)
  • Manual Materials Handling (lifting, moving, etc.)

Avoiding injury means having proper training and taking the necessary precautions for materials handling safety.

Without these precautions or training, the risk of injury – both immediate and long-term – is much higher when conducting materials handling. Safety training and safety precautions for materials handling are thus essential components of a workplace safety program.

Manual Materials Handling Safety

diagram of proper liftingOn the manual materials handling side, here we are talking about the safe handling of objects that are heavy, cumbersome and/or awkward.

Lifting, moving and placing these objects by hand (manually) is not without hazard. The potential for injury – be it immediate, short term or long-term injury – can be quite substantial.

The repetitive motion of lifting, moving and setting down heavy objects takes its toll on the human body. Long-term injuries to the back, legs, arms or torso can and do occur.

Immediate injury can also occur when lifting loads that are too large and/or heavy.

That’s why precautions are the key to injury prevention in materials handling safety. This includes:

  • Proper stretching before engaging in materials handling
  • Lifting materials carefully with knowledge and executing of proper materials handling safety procedure
  • Taking short pauses between loads, and longer pauses at designated intervals
  • Using auxiliary equipment as available (e.g. conveyors, slides, lifts, etc.)
  • Exercising caution towards other workers nearby
  • Wear proper harnesses, safety belts, etc.
  • Use proper grip and lifting technique (“with the knees)
  • Stretch during the day and after the materials handling task is complete

General Materials Handling Safety – Equipment & Gear

worker stretching before liftingThe broader category of materials handling includes the safe operations of a variety of tools, equipment, gear and processes in the workplace.

Examples of these are:

  • Hoist wires
  • Rope slings
  • Shackles
  • Cranes
  • Rigging

And much more.

In these instances, it’s not only imperative to handle the gear properly – you also need to maintain the gear properly, ensuring the proper installation and safe configuration for continued operations.

How ACT Can Help with Your Materials Handling Safety Needs

When it comes to workplace safety training, it’s highly advisable not to overlook materials handling safety.

Advanced Consulting & Training, a leader of safety training in Ontario, offers courses and consulting for materials handling safety. By partnering with us, you’re getting the knowledge and experience that we can instill in your teams.

Contact us to find out more and to get started on stepping up your materials handling safety.