Material Handling Safety: What's The Big Deal?


How many times did you completely tune out when your elementary teacher started talking about safety on the playground? You may have done the same thing when listening to your boss go over the safety rules and regulations at your workplace more than once.  However, no matter your level of frustration safety regulations are very important and should always be followed. Proper safety education can prevent accidents and allow everyone to work better together.

Most Avoidable Injuries

Like mentioned above, proper material handling and safety procedures and a thorough knowledge of these procedures can not only prevent injuries, but also save lives.

  1. The majority of material handling injuries are a result of heavy equipment or loads handled improperly.
  2. Bruising, pinching and broken limbs are also often caused by extra heavy loads mishandled. Lift with your legs, not your back and don’t twist or bend with a heavy load in your arms.
  3. Additionally, cuts and bruises are often caused by improperly stored or unsecured falling material.

When material cannot be handled properly on your own, you should consider asking a co-worker or manager for help moving the equipment in question or use a machine, such as a forklift or hand lift to get heavy loads where they need to be.

Additionally, you should consider wearing safety equipment including gloves, goggles, steel-toed boots and safety belts if necessary.

Operating Equipment

If not handling materials manually, you will most likely be using heavy machinery that could also cause injury and accident if not handled properly.

  1. Make sure the load is centered on the forklift to minimize the chance of dropping or tipping the load.
  2. When moving the machine, make sure the lift is on the lowest setting for safest travelling.
  3. When placing a load on a pile, make sure it is safely centered and stacked before moving away from the stack. Improper placement can cause a load to tip or fall and cause damage or injury to the material and or people handling it.

Stacking Safety

As mentioned before when stacking a load it is important to do it properly so that damage to the pallet or injury to the body doesn’t occur.

  1. When stacking lumber, remove all screws or nails from the wood.
  2. When stacking manually, don’t make stacks higher than 16 feet and when using a forklift, keep it less than 20 feet.
  3. Stacks should be stable and self-supporting.
  4. Make sure all stacks and bundles are secured properly.
  5. Stack poles and anything else that may roll within proper constraints and away from main isles so as not to cause issues when unstacking or removing individual pieces.
  6. You may consider painting a line on the wall or poll to notate the proper stacking height.

Conveyor Belt Safety

Conveyor belts are usually simple and honestly seem to be quite harmless, but there are hundreds, if not thousands of injuries take place every year because of the lax attitude that is normal when using a conveyor belt.

  1. A stop button or cord should be installed in case the worse happens. Experts suggest that it should have to be re-set every time it is turned off or on.
  2. If a conveyor moves through an area where employees are working, keep the area clear, in case of falling material.

These are just a few of the areas that workers and employees should be aware of when reviewing safety procedures. There are many other areas and equipment that employers and employees should be aware of such as:

  • Cranes
  • Slings
  • Industrial Trucks

Even though safety measures are helpful, they don’t always keep everyone 100% safe. If something should happen, you should also know what to do in order to get the help you need.

By Heidi Rothert

Heidi Rothert writes content for companies such as Hoj material handling in Utah to help drive internet traffic.

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