Material Handling Safety
Be careful when handling materials at the workplace.
Material handling accounts for about one quarter of all occupational injuries; the most common
injuries are strains, sprains and contusions. The principal causes of the injuries are the mishaps
resulting from improper lifting, failing to use available equipment and unsafe work practices.
Some pointers for the prevention of injuries during manual material handling are:
• Inspect the load to be lifted for jagged or sharp edges. Use gloves when necessary.
• Size up the load. Is it manageable, or will this task take two?
• Inspect the route where the load will be carried. Especially look for tripping hazards and
adequate room to maneuver safely.
• Clean off greasy, wet or dirty items before lifting. Keep your hands free of anything that
will prevent a firm grasp such as oil, grease or ragged gloves.
• Bend with your knees keeping your back straight. Get a firm grasp on the load, and make
sure to have a solid footing before beginning. Once you lift the load, keep it close to your
• Keep fingers away from edges where pinches may occur. This is especially important
when carrying through doors or when setting a load down.
• When handling unwieldy loads such as pipe and lumber, keep hands and fingers back
from the ends. Crushing injuries, even amputations can result without these good manual
• High level stacking should always be on pallets. Riding the tines of a forklift is inviting a
fall and serious injury. Never work off a pallet to retrieve stock from high shelving, or to
empty trash into a dumpster. Only an approved cage with railings should be used for this
Think ahead. Every lift should be planned before it is made. Good planning is the best method of
preventing material handling injuries. Proper lifting uses your leg muscles more than your back.
So get a good footing – falling while carrying a load or under a load can compound any injury that
Material handling is made more difficult, when water, snow, mud or grease is permitted to
accumulate. Keep work areas and floors clean, dry and free of debris.
Make Every Lift, Safe and Well Planned.