Manual Material Handling – Tips for Safe Work Performance

Manual material handling (MMH) means manually moving or handling things by lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding or restraining. MMH is also the most common cause of occupational fatigue, low back pain and lower back injuries.

Potential Manual Material Handling Hazards for Workers

Workers frequently cite the weight and bulkiness of objects that they lift as major contributing factors to their injuries. In 1999, for example, more than 4,20,000 workplace accidents resulted in back injuries. Bending, followed by twisting and turning, were the more commonly cited movements that caused back injuries. Other hazards include falling objects, improperly stacked materials and various types of equipment. You should make your employees aware of potential injuries that can occur when manually moving materials including the following:-

  • Strains and sprains from lifting loads improperly or from carrying loads that are either too large or too heavy;
  • Fractures and bruises caused by being struck by materials or by being caught in pinch points, and
  • Cuts and bruises caused by falling materials that have been improperly stored or by incorrectly cutting ties or other securing devices

Precautions to Be Taken During MMH:

When moving materials manually, workers should attach handles or holders to loads. In addition, workers should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment and use proper lifting techniques to prevent injury from oversize loads. Workers should seek help during the following:-

  • When a load is so bulky that employees cannot properly grasp or lift it;
  • When employees cannot see around or over a load or;
  • When employees cannot safely handle a load.

Using the following personal protective equipment prevents needless injuries when manually moving materials:-

  • Hand and forearm protection such as gloves for loads with sharp or rough edges
  • Eye protection
  • Steel toed safety shoes or boots
  • Metal fiber or plastic metatarsal guards to protect the in-step area from impact or compression

Stop & Think

Assess where, how long, how complicated can manual handling be.

Steps For Manual Lifting

Steps for Manual Lifting

  • Keep feet apart to give a balanced and stable base for lifting
  • Bend the knees so that the hands are as near to the waist as possible
  • Keep the back straight, chin tucked-in, lean over the load if necessary [Shoulders in same direction as hips]
  • Try to keep the arms within the boundary formed of the legs
  • Carry out lifting smoothly without jerk
  • Then adjust if precise positioning is necessary
  • Give a command to gain group efforts in synchronized ways

Additional Safety Practices in Manual Handling

  • Restrict the load to 55 Kg (as per Indian Statute)
  • Trial lift before actual lifting
  • Ascertain, intended path of movement is clear

The above mentioned procedure shall help the people to safely handle the material manually. Proper manual material handling training should always be considered to avoid manual material handling hazards and thereby safe work performance.

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