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More Than Meets the Eye: Three Steps to Safeguard Your Workforce
May 27, 2022
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The recent increase in demand for the delivery and supply of durable goods has generated enormous pressure on manual material handling workers. Working in an environment that has an increased level of stress can have significant impact on workforce well-being.

Manual material handling (MMH) such as lifting, carrying and pushing is a leading cause of workplace injury. At a time where employee turnover remains high, the need to instill safety throughout your operation has never been more important.

In fact, a Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute’s 2021 report, “Creating pathways for tomorrow’s workforce today: Beyond reskilling in manufacturing,” states that 77% percent of manufacturers expect to have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in 2022 and beyond.

Manufacturers have a unique opportunity to find innovative ways to attract and retain quality talent by focusing on the health and safety of their employees. When employees know you value their wellbeing, it improves retention and enhances your reputation as a mindful employer.

Follow these steps to help transform your operation and safeguard your workforce.

Ergonomic risk factors are issues that may cause unnecessary fatigue and strain. Many injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and low back injuries are due to risk factors like high task repetition, forceful exertions and repetitive motions. In your manual material handling environment, you might find:

  • Stressful postures – Bending or twisting
  • Highly repetitive motions – Frequent reaching and lifting
  • Forceful exertions – Lifting or carrying heavy loads

Once you’ve identified these problem areas, you can find ways to ease or eliminate them. The implementation of ergonomic safety processes helps ensure that employees’ capabilities and physical limitations are matched with the right tools to ensure comfortable and safe working conditions. 

In addition to many ergonomic risks, manual bulk material handling also takes more time and leaves your operation open to human error. By integrating  automated material handling equipment tailored to your processes, you’ll make the processes safer, faster and more efficient.

Better yet – for the most seamless process – seek a fully integrated system with automatic material movement, weighing and batching. A complete system helps facilitate the smooth operation of the equipment and the processing of bulk materials. 

Automated bulk material handling systems include: 

  • Conditioning of hardened bulk material to a flowable state.
  • Accurate filling of material containers such as super sacks, gaylords, drums and more.
  • Controlled discharging of materials into a downstream process.
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Follow Safety Standards

Due to the risks, bulk material handling operations must meet high safety standards. Make sure your processes and equipment comply with government guidelines, which may include:

  • OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health)
  • MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration)

Bulk material handling involves powerful equipment. So, just as important as getting the right equipment is getting the right safety features built into it.

Machine guards are your first line of defense against injuries caused by machine operation. Proper guarding is essential to keep workers safe while working near, inspecting, adjusting or maintaining these robust machines.

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To Comply with OSHA requirements,

all guards must:

Prevent contact – Provide a physical barrier that prevents the operator from having any part of his/her body in the “danger zone” during the machine’s operating cycle.

Be secured in place or otherwise be tamper proof – Machine guards must be secure and strong so that workers are not able to bypass, remove or tamper. 

Create no new hazard – A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface which can cause a laceration. 

Not interfere with the operation – Any safeguard which impedes a worker from performing the job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded.

Safety Protection Propels Your Operation

Every day, people in bulk material handling operations work hard to keep crucial supply chains moving. They deserve proper protection on the job. 

To ensure your equipment is built to the highest safety standards and maximizes production efficiency, talk with the experts at Material Transfer.

Want to explore what’s possible for you and your team?
Contact us with your bulk material handling challenge today.

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