Manual Material Handling: Action

ActionMaterial-handling demands in today’s food processing facilities are very diverse, but typically include a combination of lifting, handling and moving raw materials, in-process production and finished products.

Sentry has identified the following manual material-handling risk factors:

• Frequency

• Weight

• Distance

• Position

• Posture

• Prolonged or static holding

• Personal limitations

You can help control and manage the insurance risks associated with manual material handling by implementing these tips:


• Develop a policy statement on lifting safety and back injury prevention

• Train staff on proper lifting and material-handling practices

• Follow a standard format as part of your lifting and material-handling procedures that will support employees for procedural, workstation and equipment changes

• When possible, transfer material-handling demands to a vendor or supplier

• Use mechanical devices whenever possible

• Provide adequate storage, appropriate housekeeping and floor maintenance to prevent slip, trip and fall hazards

• Consider the material flow and handling impact on downstream departments

• Immediately discuss noticeable discomfort or pain exhibited by an employee. Document its cause.

• Conduct a Job Safety/Hazard Analysis to identify high hazard tasks and appropriate solutions for those job tasks that require intensive product-handling requirements

• Use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment when materials handled or lifted present a recognized risk of injury

• Place the heaviest and most frequently lifted items within your average employee’s strike height (mid-thigh to lower chest) when organizing objects on storage racks or shelving. Keep lighter objects at floor-level and above chest height.

• Correct employees who continue to make improper lifts. Demonstrate proper techniques.

• Keep the weight of objects lifted to a reasonable level. Restrict lifting by one person to no more than 50 pounds.

• Transfer physically demanding lifts to mechanized lift-assist equipment

• Remind employees of their ability and responsibility in maintaining appropriate weight and physical fitness

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