To prevent injuries ergonomics must be incorporated when designing a material handling system or purchasing new equipment. Accidents will always happen, but the chances must be reduced. There are several things you can do to minimize material handling injuries. Here are some general questions to consider when reducing material handling injuries.
- Can the job be designed to eliminate material handling activity?
- Can materials be moved by conveyor or other mechanical device?
- Can the materials themselves cause an injury?
- Are their handling aids available that can reduce injuries?
Not considering the “people’ aspect of material handling can lead to costly mistakes and increases costs. Material Flow can assist in warehouse/plant design and layout.
Preventing Back Injuries: Back injuries are the most common in the material handling industry. One study found that 70% of back injuries involved lifting, lowering, carrying or pushing/pulling. Lifting from the floor is the most dangerous form of lifting. The simplest solution to back injuries is to not store heavy objects on the floor, if they must be placed on the floor put them on a pallet and use a pallet jack or truck to move the item. Another cause of back injuries is standing on a hard floor for extended periods of time. Safety mats can prevent falls on slick surfaces and provide a comfortable surface to stand on
Aisle Safety: Keeping aisles clear of debris is one of the most important steps in worker safety. Wide aisles allow workers to move freely and leave enough room for work trucks to get by. Installing mirrors lets workers see around corners and prevents collisions.
Loading Dock Safety: Loading docks are inherently dangerous in nature. It is important to monitor worker safety in these areas. Dockboards used to load and unload trailers should be designed to carry four times their heaviest load. They should also provide enough width for material handling equipment. Chalking trailer wheels and using trailer jacks is a must. A dock lighting system can also prevent accidents, speed bumps can help control dock traffic.
Rack and Bin Storage: Keeping storage racks and bins secured to the floor or wall prevents falls. Never exceed storage capacities. Don’t let parts project into aisles. Don’t overload containers in racks, this can lead to falling objects.
Carts: Lower handle heights are better for pulling rather than pushing. Adjustable handles allow ergonomics to match the operator. Pushing offers more power than pulling.