Material Handling Tips for Safe and Efficient Work Performance
The way materials are managed in a warehouse determines operational efficiency and profits. A poorly organized warehouse with wrong shipments results in too much or too little inventory that is being over-handled. When too much weight is being handled manually, workers can become excessively fatigued, maximizing the risk of injuries and minimizing productivity. This creates the need for a well-managed warehouse that is ergonomically designed to ensure worker safety and efficiency.
Potential Hazards for Workers Handling Materials Manually
Lifting and carrying bulky objects is a major factor that is responsible for back injuries since it involves lot of bending, twisting and turning. Improperly stacked materials and falling objects also pose hazards to worker safety. Lifting loads that are either too large or too heavy can also result in strains and sprains. Cutting ties wrongly and securing devices incorrectly can invite cuts and bruises. Injuries also occur due to exposure to moving machinery parts, collisions and nip points. In fact, according to a study published by the National Safety Council, material handling alone accounts for 20-40% of all occupational injuries. But all of this can be avoided when supervisors train workers on proper techniques and enforce the best practices that minimize risk and maximize efficiency.
How to Improve Material Handling Quality, Worker Safety and Efficiency at the Same Time
Protect your employees from injuries with well-designed operations that are both safe and efficient. Review the following 10 areas and use the insights to redesign tasks and reduce the risk of material handling:
- Instead of pushing, pulling, lifting, and carrying equipment manually, use hand trucks, slides, lift trucks and conveyor belts.
- Reduce the force needed for moving the equipment and loads.
- Keep the load small and reduce the distance between the hands and the body when pushing and pulling loads.
- When carrying load, provide grips and handles for comfort and safety.
- Any load that needs lifting or lowering should be kept between the shoulder and the knuckle.
- Bending can be easily eliminated by placing materials at work level.
- Twisting can also be eliminated by providing adequate space for the entire body to turn.
- If objects are being handled manually, reduce their size, keep the load close to the body, and eliminate all reaches that go beyond 16 inches.
- When pushing and pulling objects, reduce the distance and lessen the force.
- Ensure that the loads are carried while keeping arms straight down.
Every worker should be specifically educated on handling oddly-shaped objects that are bulky and they should be directed on safe practices for handling heavy objects.
The Importance of Using the Right Material Handling Equipment
Material handling equipment is available in a wide variety ranging from robust lifting platforms to heavy-duty conveyor belts. There is a specific solution for every conceivable set of material handling requirements. While manual material handling is laborious, risky, and time-consuming, using the right material handling equipment makes the task quick, efficient, safe, and easy. It not only reduces the risk of injury when carrying heavy items but also eliminates the possibility of musculoskeletal problems. When it comes to safety, conveyor belt systems bring massive benefits for handling various weight loads of all sizes and styles. Apart from conveyor belts systems, material handling equipment is also available in the form of storage equipment likes shelves, racks, pallets, and containers, automated equipment for handling moving materials and bulk material equipment like trucks, drums, silos, and grain elevators.
An important thing to ensure when handling automated equipment is to provide proper training to employees. When operators know how to handle the equipment safely and correctly, no damage is caused and efficiency is improved.
Kevin Hill heads the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.