Safety is a huge concern for those in material handling industries. One conservative estimate says that 20-25% of all on the job injuries are the result of handling materials either manually or mechanically. While technology has provide many safety advancements accidents still happen and care must always be taken to avoid accidents. Sprains and strains are the most common type of material handing injuries. Improper lifting, gripping or not wearing the proper equipment can lead to these types of injuries. While these injuries place the blame on the workers themselves it is possible that the work area layout is causing injuries. If workers have to make awkward movements, bend down to far or reach to high for objects this can lead to an increased number of injuries.
One important thing to remember about worker safety is that not all accidents lead to death or even an injury. Say a worker is running a conveyor system and his shirt gets caught in the belting, he manages to pull it out and avoid injury. The next day the same thing happens only he gets pulled in and loses an arm. Two accidents occurred from the same cause, but only one resulted in serious injury. If a guard would have be installed on that conveyor after the first accident the worker wouldn’t have had the second accident. It is important for management to keep an eye on all accidents and near misses and take the appropriate safety measures after they happen, don’t just assume it was a one time problem.
There are two types of injuries in the material handling industry. Trauma and non-trauma. Trauma injuries involve workers being injured by the materials they are handling. Cuts, bruises, broken bones, lacerations and head injuries are all examples of trauma injuries. One of the most common causes of trauma injuries is by dropped materials. While proper handling procedures can reduce injuries equipping workers with the proper equipment can reduce the amount of injury that occurs. Metatarsal and foot protection, gloves, goggles or other eye protection and hard hats should be used where applicable.Non-trauma injuries are caused by lifting, twisting, bending, pushing and pulling objects. These types of injuries can cause harm to the back, neck and other muscle groups, Back injuries are a big problem in material handling, but with the proper training and use of powered equipment the number can be reduced.