Material handling safety should be a top priority for all employers and employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 3 million nonfatal work-related injuries and illness reported each year. While the exact cause of such injuries and illnesses varies, many of them are the result of poor material handling practices.
There are two different ways to handle materials in the workplace: manually, which involves workers physically lifting and manipulating the respective materials themselves, and mechanically, which involves the use of special machines and lifting equipment to perform the task. Both methods can be used effectively move materials, but there are nuances between the two that shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The Importance of Proper Material Handling
In addition to reducing the risk of injury and illness, proper material handling can also improve productivity levels in the workplace. As noted by OSHA, the handling of materials is vital to industry.
“The efficient handling and storing of materials are vital to industry. In addition to raw materials, these operations provide a continuous flow of parts and assemblies through the workplace and ensure that materials are available when needed. Unfortunately, the improper handling and storing of materials often result in costly injuries,” wrote the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Manual Material Handling
Many employers assume manual material handling is the best choice for their operations, simply because there’s little-to-no cost associated with it. If a pile of heavy pallets or drums needs moving from point A to point B, the employer may ask one or more workers to perform this task. But you have to realize the manual material handling tasks such as this places workers at a higher risk of injury. So while the direct costs associated with it are lower, the employer may end up paying more in the long run if a worker sustains an injury while lifting and moving the materials.
Mechanical Material Handling
On the other side of the fence is mechanical material handling, which was we mentioned earlier involves the use of special lifting machines and equipment to lift, move and manipulate heavy objects. Arguably, the greatest benefit to using mechanical operations for material handling tasks is the fact that it reduces the risk of worker injury. By placing the burden on a lifting machine, such as a Mobile Roll Lifter, there’s little-to-no risk of worker injury.
Opting for mechanical material handling as opposed to manual will also boost productivity levels in the workplace. Machines can perform many of the same tasks as human workers, only faster and more efficiently. This means companies can get more work accomplished in less time.