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Preventing Manual Material Handling Injuries In Your Workplace

- August 25, 2015 by Guest Bloggers (View all posts by Guest)

Manual material handling accounts for a significant percentage of the thousands of cases of musculoskeletal disorders reported annually in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), workers’ compensation costs for an average lost-time injury for a shoulder are $20,000, and $25, 000 for a back.

Manual materials may include items in boxes, manufacturing components, supplies used at jobsites, etc. that are moved by employees. Injuries from handling them (lifting, pulling, pushing, holding and carrying) are prevalent in many different types of work environments. From my experience visiting and working with different types of operations, there are a number of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of an injury. These include:

• Weight of the objects handled
• Force required moving the objects
• Awkward postures including bending the back and reaching to grasp, hold or lift objects
• Sudden twisting or jerking motions
• Frequency and duration of handling the materials

You can reduce your team’s chance of serious injury by using safe practices and following these prevention techniques:

• Avoid bending over by having the materials elevated 18 inches from the ground—keep the items close to your body. Make sure your hands stay above waist height

• Do not twist, and bend while lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying the load—keep the object between the knees and shoulders during the lift

• Ensure that you have good footing and are wearing proper footwear

• Do not make sudden or jerking movements while lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying

• Use mechanical aids or devices such as dollies, manual roller conveyors, etc.

• Redesign the workflow process if needed, including duration, personnel involved, etc

• Do some daily stretching

• Require material vendors and suppliers to provide lighter weight packages

• Get help, if needed, before trying to move any item—especially for anything more than 50 pounds