Materials Handling and Ergonomics
Material handling can be a major source of occupational injuries whether the work is done manually or with mechanical assistance. Jobs that involve manual, mechanical or repetitive handling present the highest risk of injury.
To schedule an Ergonomics Evaluation or Job Hazard Analysis
Summary of Requirements
Material handling requires careful consideration of many factors including the area of ergonomics. Every job that involves manual, mechanical or repetitive handling should have a job analysis performed to determine how worker injury can be minimized.
Most back injuries that occur on the job are a result of poor lifting technique. Lifting and carrying objects should be designed out of jobs whenever possible. When lifting cannot be avoided, employees should get assistance with heavy and awkward object. The risk of injury can be reduced by staying in good physical shape, planning the lift and removing all obstacles, getting a good grip, getting load close to the body and lifting with the legs. Avoid twisting the back and lifting a load above shoulder height. Lower the load carefully, again bending the knees and keeping the back straight.
Each department is required to provide adequate training to all employees who are susceptible to material handling injuries. This would include proper lifting techniques, proper adjustment of workstations and specialized training in how to use material handling equipment on the job. OSHA specifies that employees involved in the following materials handling operations must receive training:
- Powered industrial trucks
- Powered platforms
- Servicing multi-piece rim wheels
- Proper Lifting
- Home Office Ergonomics Training
Mechanical equipment: both frequent and periodic inspections must be conducted of powered industrial trucks and cranes.
All training sessions and inspections should be appropriately documented and maintained by the individual departments. Training sessions should have a sign-in sheet. Proof of required training should be maintained in the employee's personnel file.
Ergonomics is a multi-disciplinary science which emphasizes the importance of designing workstations (i.e. office furniture or industrial work areas and equipment) to fit the individual worker. The objective is to design out as many ergonomic hazards as possible in an effort to reduce cumulative trauma disorders. A properly arranged workstation can prevent injuries.
Summary of Requirements
Ergonomics emphasizes the following as key program components:
- Top management commitment
- Written program
- Employee involvement
- Program review/evaluation
The four elements of an effective program are:
- Worksite analysis
- Hazard prevention/control
- Medical management
Employees in problem jobs and their supervisors shall receive ergonomic awareness and job specific training in:
- Recognition of workplace risk factors and methods of control.
- Identification of workplace risk factors and methods of control.
- Importance of early reporting.
- Employer's medical management procedures.
- Reporting procedures and report distribution.
- Corrective actions to be implemented and role of each individual involved and how to participate in the process.
- How to procure ergonomic protection standard.
Employees involved in conducting job analyses shall demonstrate competency in the following areas:
- Identification of workplace risk factors and how they relate to the specific job.
- Job analysis methodologies.
- Implementation and evaluation of control measures.
- Problem solving methodologies.
The employer shall use the OSHA workplace risk factor checklist or a variation of to identify problem jobs.