Why is Material Handling Safety Important?
Material handling safety is important for a number of reasons, one of which is its ability to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses. According to data released by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are among the most common types of work-related injuries, costing employers more than $45 billion annually in lost wages, lost productivity, and worker’s compensation. Employers can protect workers from MSDs, however, by promoting safe material handling practices in the workplace.
What is Manual Material Handling?
Manual material handling refers to the process of lifting, manipulating and/or moving materials in the workplace by hand. This may include workers who lift and carry boxes to the other side of the factory, or workers who assemble components at a stationary area. If the material is being handled manually, then it’s considered manual material handling.
What is Mechanical Material Handling?
On the opposite side of the fence is mechanical material handling, which is characterized by the use of one or more machines to lift, manipulate and/or move materials in the workplace. An example of mechanical material handling is a rail-based lifting system. Instead of forcing workers to lift a heavy object by hand, employers can implement a rail-based lifting system to this burden off their shoulders.
What are the Benefits of Mechanical Material Handling?
You might be wondering what (if any) benefits there are to using mechanical material handling solutions. Well, there are several advantages to using mechanical material handling over manual. For starters, it reduces the risk of worker injury, simply because workers can operate machines to lift and manipulate heavy and/or awkwardly shaped materials. Mechanical material handling also has a positive impact on productivity, allowing companies to produce better work in less time.
What Role Does Ergonomics Play in Material Handling?
Ergonomics plays a key role in material handling. As you may already know, the term “ergonomics” refers to the process of fitting a work environment to meed the unique needs of the worker. When speaking about material handling, implementing ergonomics into the workplace will streamline workers’ ability to handle materials while reducing the risk of injury and illness in the process.
What Should Employers Know About Material Handling?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires all employers to provide their workers with personal protective equipment (PPE). If workers are given a task that requires them to handle potentially hazardous materials, the employer is responsible for providing the necessary PPE.