Material Handling Safety

Cogbill Safety Tuesday September 28th, 2021

Working in an industrial setting can often be physically demanding. Improper handling of material is a contributor to numerous workplace injuries. The manual movements of material can cause strains and sprains when preformed improperly. The improper storage and handling of material can cause injuries such as fractures, bruises, cuts, and even more life-threatening ones. Employers should have a material handling policy and provide workers with essential training on material handling. The following are some general guidelines for the safe handling of material:

When moving material manually:

  • Maintain correct posture.
  • Lift carefully, avoiding any sudden lift movements.
  • Never twist to pick up heavy objects.
  • Grip properly with a full grasp of the hands.
  • Get assistance from co-workers when the weight is heavy.
  • Carry along a clear pathway, avoid unnecessary obstacles.
  • Maintain a clear line of sight.
  • Reduce load sizes when possible.
  • Use personal protective equipment as needed.

When moving material mechanically:

  • Avoid overloading a lift truck to prevent loss of control and flips.
  • Center the load on the forks as close to the mast as possible.
  • Adjust the load to the lowest position when traveling.
  • Pile and cross-tier all stacked loads correctly when possible.
  • Do not place extra weight on the rear of a counterbalanced forklift.
  • Follow the truck manufacturer’s operation requirements.

When storing materials:

  • Keep storage areas free of accumulation that may cause trips, fires, or explosions.
  • Separate non-compatible materials.
  • Stack and level materials to solidly supported bracing.
  • Do not store pipes and bars in racks that face main aisles.
  • Stack bags and bundles in interlocking rows to keep them secure.

If there are factors in the workplace that are out of your control to the point they prevent you from remaining focused, talk to your supervisor or your peers about finding solutions. If you are unable to clear your mind due to life’s circumstances, do not be afraid to reach out for help.

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