Winter-Related Problems in Manual Material Handling and how to Solve them

posted on: Wednesday March 12, 2014

This winter has been brutal, especially for states that get snow. Difficulties with snow and ice removal have left many driveways, walkways, and other uspo Load Moverpathways narrow and dangerous. While we are starting to turn a corner, the melting snow keeps ice a problem. This creates a hazardous situation for manual material handlers who have to push or pull on surfaces exposed to the elements.

Not surprisingly, workers’ compensation claims rise in the winter. Slip and fall injuries affect numerous parts of the body, and can leave a person unable to do his job. Liz Wallace writes in “Winter Hazards Cause a Spike in Workers’ Compensation Claims,” “Statistics show that half of all injuries occur in the winter and more than half of injury costs result from winter events” (

This issue is a big problem for anyone hauling or moving large garbage bins. It is difficult to reach the necessary initial force to move the bin when standing on snow or ice. Other problems are unseen patches of ice or snow along the pathway. As a person is pushing a heavy object, stepping on an unexpected ice patch can cause injury even if he does not fall. The body twists, reaches, and tenses up to correct itself, and this can cause debilitating injuries.

Ice patches can also cause an object to “run away,” endangering not only the person moving it, but people or objects in its way.

Narrow pathways due to snow create issues as well. Pushing an already heavy item through resistance will fatigue a person quickly. If there is ice along the way, too, the worker is extremely likely to slip. Unforgiving turns can make pushing the object more strenuous and also much more time consuming.

When an object is too big to see over, a worker may pull rather than push it so he can better maneuver it through narrowed paths. This is very dangerous on a slippery surface. If a person slips and falls while pulling a heavy object, it could fall or roll on top of him.

Garbage bins are not the only things that may have to be moved around on outdoor surfaces. Carts and equipment are moved around outside for many jobs. While heavier objects are more dangerous to move, workers may be overconfident in moving lighter items, thereby making an accident more likely.

Indoor surfaces can become slippery in the winter, too, especially in doorways and loading areas. Snow and water hitch a ride indoors on people and equipment. These are slippery by themselves, but they can also turn into ice. Walking on these surfaces is dangerous enough; pushing carts and equipment on them can be very problematic.

Trucking is another industry susceptible to the dangers of winter, and not just on the road. Wallace writes, “Many trucking companies experience a spike in workers’ compensation claims during the winter months as a direct result of winter hazards that are completely unrelated to driving a truck…Icy running boards, steps, and trailer decks account for thousands of slip-and-fall accidents.”

Between the end of winter and the upcoming rainy season, material handlers need a safer option to push and pull now. An extremely effective solution is to use a power tug.

Power tugs provide the muscle of pushing and pulling. They easily move up to 50,000 pounds (depending on the model.) They attach to almost anything on wheels, and are both easy and safe to operate. The operator can control the speed, and the tug’s wheels provide grip to slick surfaces. The tugs also easily maneuver around awkward turns. Workers can attach the tug to a cart or object and cautiously walk ahead of the load using the tugger to do all the pulling. The worker will not have to exert extra force to roll the load over snow or through narrowed pathways.

The battery-operated tugs work great to load and unload trucks. The tugs are small enough to fit on the ramp and maneuver through stacks. They also increase the distance between the worker and the cart, so a person will be closer to the end of a ramp before the heavy load is rolled onto it.

The capabilities of power tugs provide safe, time-saving solutions year-round. Pushing and pulling on dry surfaces still causes injuries, and tugs eliminate those risks. Tug owners find that productivity is boosted with the equipment as well. By linking carts together, one power tug can pull more material around a facility. The work is not as fatiguing as pushing or pulling carts (even automatic ones), so employees are capable of getting more done in their shifts.

Overall, power tugs make manual material handling easier, safer, and more productive any time of the year. Load Mover Inc. builds quality tugs to fit a variety of applications. They would be happy to help you decide whether a tug would benefit your company. For more information on Load Movers, search this site, email, or call 952-767-1720.