Safe Lifting and Handling of Materials and Equipment
Lifting, carrying and other manual handling of materials presents a significant potential for injury. In 2013, over 40 injuries occurred from equipment or material handling, resulting in an average cost of over $4,000 per injury. Many of these issues go unreported each year. While most people contribute a single occurrence of using improper body mechanics or lifting something too heavy, it is often an accumulation of these issues over time that cause the issue. Years of straining, repetitive tasks, awkward postures, lifting, and twisting and the weakening of back and stomach muscles leads to cumulative trauma and can cause permanent damage. Learn why improper equipment and material handling is so risky and what you can do to keep yourself and your team safe from potential injury.
How can I prevent Material and Equipment Handling Injuries?
Review Work Tasks
- If work requires continuous material handling or heavy lifting, consider the following:
- Amount of weight lifting
- Load will be lifted “how low” to “how high”
- Distance load moved
- Twisting required
- Frequency of load lifting
- Bending required- how far, often, and duration
- Assess the surrounding areas, looking for:
- Adequate space to lift
- Floor conditions- slippery or wet, trip hazards, poor housekeeping, etc.
- Use lift aids
- When possible, use carts, dollies, and other mechanical devices
- All wheeled equipment should be periodically inspected to ensure that it is low resistance and can easily roll over mixed flooring as well as gaps between elevators and hallways
- Push wheeled equipment rather than pulling, when possible to reduce strain
- Design Solutions- consider the following for safer designs:
- Put packaging and equipment so that it can be easily reached while maintaining the elbows in close to the body.
- Minimize prolonged overhead activity by either lowering shelves or using appropriate ladders or step stools
- Rotate workers through repetitive tasks
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
- Place your feet apart for good balance
- Hold your head upright
- Bend your knees
- Keep the load close to your body
- Lift with your legs- gradually, smoothly, and without jerking
- Maintain normal curves of the spine- don’t bend
- Do not twist your back while lifting- pivot with your feet
- Coordinate your lift when performing a team lift
- Do not lift beyond your safe limits