How to effectively and immediately implement changes to manual material handling jobs that will make them safer.
Manual material handling (MMH) jobs report more workplace accidents and injuries than any other industry. While some of these jobs have obvious risks, even those that don’t require a lot of strength or movement are physically taxing. Injuries most common to MMH are chronic musculoskeletal disorders that worsen over time. It is easy to overlook the first signs of these injuries and allow them to go on until they are debilitating and irreversible.
Managers of MMH workers have a lot to gain by minimizing the risks inherent to this kind of work. Benefits include the health and productivity of employees, eliminating costs of workers’ compensation, and keeping insurance premiums low, among other things.
By taking immediate action to reduce these risks, employees start being safer today. Let’s look at what you can do to protect your assets from MMH risks.
The most effective
The absolute fastest, most effective, and cheapest action you can take is to eliminate the most dangerous MMH work. If tasks can be carried out in a way that MMH is either avoided or restricted, you’ll obviously eliminate the risks altogether. For some tasks, this may be feasible, but for others, impossible. Additionally, what you save on extra training or equipment, you may lose with inefficient work flow.
While this does require an investment, most manufacturers and other companies find this to be the most successful intervention to MMH dangers. Equipment can include everything from a complete overhaul of operations to simply adding portable devices that replace manual work. In most cases, the ROI is less than five years because the entire operation becomes more efficient and productive. Additionally, extra costs related to injuries go away.
One of the simplest pieces of equipment known for its safety and its improvement to productivity is the battery-powered tug. This is specifically for pushing and pulling tasks, but within that, the tug is unmatched as a solution. It eliminates or immensely reduces the risks that fall under every factor this series has covered:
- Hauls heavy loads without strain on the operator
- Keeps visibility optimal, so size of load and the environment in which it’s being moved is not a hazard
- Moves loads low to the ground, so even unbalanced loads remain more stable than carrying, pushing, or transporting via forklift
- Overcomes the “Draw-bar Pull,” so pushing/pulling numerous times a day over long distances does not wear out the operator
- The handles on many models are ergonomically designed to adjust to the height of the operator
- It overcomes environmental concerns, like uneven or slippery floors and narrow walkways
- The operator needs no special training or equipment to use it
(See below to contact a power tug manufacturer)
Important, but less impactful
Regardless of your approach to this issue, it is vital that you train employees on proper handling techniques as well as inform them on the dangers of their jobs. Whether you need to bring in a specialist to administer training will depend on the efficacy of your current training methods. At the very least, you need to ensure that employees are lifting, pushing, and pulling properly. Training should be ongoing, but as a solution to MMH risks, it really only covers one of the risk factors.
If you’re serious about improving safety and productivity, contact Load Movers Inc. about your most serious MMH concerns. We will help you identify where a power tug would make the greatest impact to your operation. We help countless manufacturers and MMH managers implement permanent solutions to safety and workflow. Call us at 952-767-1720 or email Info@loadmoverinc.com.