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Materials Handling Safety

The ability to handle materials-to and move them from one location to another, whether during transit or at the worksite-is vital to all segments of the industry. Materials must be moved, for example, for the industry to manufacture, sell, and utilize products. In short, without materials-handling capability, the industry would cease to exist.

Mishandling materials is the single largest cause of accidents and injuries in the workplace. Most of these accidents and injuries can be readily avoided. Whenever possible, mechanical means should be used to move materials to avoid employee injuries such as muscle pulls, strains, and sprains. Many loads are too heavy and/or bulky to be safely moved manually. Various types of equipment, therefore, have been designed specifically to aid in the movement of materials: cranes, derricks, hoists, powered industrial trucks, and conveyors.

The hazards associated with materials handling include:

  • the improper use of equipment,
  • the accumulation of materials and clutter,
  • unsafe conditions of materials and containers,
  • toxic and flammable materials,
  • the weight of materials being handled,
  • binding ties or other devices to secure bundles or bound materials,
  • exposure to struck-by or caught-in/between hazards,
  • lifting, lowering, pushing, and pulling heavy or unwieldy objects, and
  • improperly stacked materials.

This course describes basic concepts and principles of manual and mechanical materials handling, including moving, transferring, handling, lifting, and storing materials.

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