If you work in materials handling, you work in one of most injury-prone workplaces in the country. Common injuries that happen in these workplaces cause workers pain, suffering, and lost income. Employers also experience a loss of productivity and high workers’ compensation insurance premiums.
A few safety guidelines can prevent injuries in your materials handling workplace. Let’s take a look at five ways to avoid lifting injuries.
1. Use the Right Techniques
In a materials handling workplace, employees are sometimes rushing without examining their technique. Some hazardous techniques that could result in injury are:
- Bending while lifting. This technique puts too much strain on a worker’s lower spine. Advise your workers to lift with their legs instead.
- Reaching too high. Workers should move items close to their bodies before picking them up. Store items that will be manually lifted at reasonable heights.
- Bending repeatedly. Try to minimize the need for bending in your workspace. Place heavy objects on shelves, tables, and racks for easier access.
- Twisting their backs. It’s a bad habit for workers to twist and bend to access things around them. Workers should always turn by moving their feet.
You will notice that most of the tips are to help protect the back or spine. Low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. It is important for workers to take steps to protect it.
2. Use Materials Handling Gear
You can offer special gear like weight belts to provide extra support to the workers’ lower backs. Lifting straps could also help control and support irregular items.
Giving your employees special gear can help prevent inconvenient injuries from happening.
3. Adjust to Conditions
Workplace conditions play a large role in your employee’s safety. For example, cold temperatures can cause muscle pulls. In a cold workplace, your employees should wear warm garments to avoid strains. Alternatively, hot temperatures lead to dehydration and fatigue. Tired employees are less aware and less likely to make the safest decisions when it comes to lifting.
Materials handling environments require employees to always be alert. Remind your employees to drink fluids and take breaks when there is severe heat.
4. Have the Right Equipment
Even with a team of capable workers, sometimes it’s smart to let the machines do the heavy lifting. Make sure your workplace has the right machines available to help get the big jobs done. Vertical reciprocating conveyers (VRCs) provide a safe way to move heavy materials.
Safety is just one of the benefits to using VRCs for materials handling. They’re also fast, which means your employees can make more use of their time. Dollies, forklifts, and other package handling lifts can help lift large items.
5. Use Your Judgment
Even with the right tools, preventing injuries usually boils down to decision-making, so remember:
- Require your employees to use mechanical tools to lift heavy items.
- Encourage them to ask for help when they need it.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers many safety guidelines and tools that can help you establish safety protocols that can avoid injuries.
Providing a safe environment for your employees will prevent costly mistakes from happening in your workplace.
The Bottom Line
Materials handling is a physically demanding job that can expose workers to injuries, but most can be prevented. Protect your employees from pain, time away from work, and lost wages by enforcing safety guidelines and equipping them with quality tools. Following these guidelines will give you peace of mind knowing that you have made your factory a safer place to work.
Learn about other lift products to keep your facility safer and more productive. And comment if you have any questions!