How to Make Pushing and Pulling Safer in Manufacturing

posted on: Friday February 27, 2015


Every manufacturing production floor is packed with high-risk tasks that lead to injury. This is even truer when:

  1. Employees get older
  2. The labor pool shrinks and skilled workers are fewer
  3. The company expands or contracts, demanding more production from fewer employees

On top of caring about the well being of employees, managers also can’t risk losing an employee to an injury. Be it acute or one that develops over time, manufacturers need to be careful to prevent injuries. One of the most common reasons employees get hurt on the job is overexertion from pushing or pulling.


If you’re concerned whether your employees are too strained as they push material across the production floor, evaluate the following:

  1. Visual cues from your workers. Verbal complaints aren’t your only indicators that work is too strenuous. Your employees’ bodies will tell you a lot. Look at their facial expressions. Are they strained? Are they leaning into a push? How low do they have to get? Are their movements erratic or jerky? These are all signs that their bodies are working too hard.
  2. The environment. Pushing takes a greater toll on the body when a load has to be stopped and started again. Are there turns, narrow aisles, or changes in direction? Does a cart need to be pushed over thresholds, damaged flooring, or expansion joints? Does the cart need to be pushed up a ramp? Any of these factors will make pushing more difficult.
  3. Draw-bar pull. This is the amount of horizontal energy in pounds required to get a cart to move forward or backwards. It is not the same as the weight of the load. The Draw-bar pull requirements fluctuate with the cart weight, the wheels’ rolling resistance, and floor condition. Safe Draw-bar pull guidelines for one person are: 50 pounds or less to start the device in motion; 40 pounds or less to keep it moving; 25 pounds or less when the force is sustained for over a minute or for longer than ten feet.


If any of these assessments suggest that you need to make pushing safer for your production team, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Maintain equipment and pathways. Routine preventative maintenance is crucial for bearings and other components. Be sure all carts and equipment work as intended. If possible, remove or repair environmental obstacles.
  2. Add manpower. If the Draw-bar pull is too great for one person to handle, you can add more people to the task. However, this creates a huge loss in productivity.
  3. Use powered equipment. Albeit an investment, the ROI on electric powered tugs and cart pushers is typically 1-3 years. This equipment both lessens the risk of injuries and increases productivity. Load Mover power tugs (or cart pushers) maneuver around corners, fit down narrow aisles, and attach to almost any cart. One person can operate a Load Mover and effortlessly haul hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of pounds all day. Manufacturers will link carts together behind a power tug to create a train effect, moving much more product in one trip. It makes the production floor highly efficient as well as safe for all personnel.

For help determining your Draw-bar pull and other safe pushing concerns, contact Load Mover, Inc. Our experts will determine what kind of equipment would best suit your needs. Find out if your employees would benefit from a battery-powered cart pusher: 952-767-1720;