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Moving and Storing Compressed Gas Cylinders Safely

If you work with compressed gas, those big metal cylinders are the most dangerous items in your facility. They can explode like bombs, fall like anvils, and even blast through the room like rockets. Plus, let’s not forget, they’re filled with gas that might be flammable, poisonous, corrosive, or any combination of those hazards. But if you do work with compressed gas, nothing else can take its place. Where would welders be without oxygen and acetylene? What would a party store do without a helium tank? With a little bit of caution and some specialized material handling and storage equipment, you can safely transport any number of compressed gas cylinders. Here’s what you need to know: Never try to lift…more

Safely Completing Inventory at the Top of Warehouse Shelves

At some point, usually at the end of the year, order pickers and warehouse managers alike have to buckle down and tackle inventory. Manual inventory, while a chore, isn’t really that tough for the first few tiers of shelving. Staff can easily kneel for the lower racks, take inventory up to eye level, and even climb short ladders to go above their heads. But what about high-density shelving systems that take full advantage of a warehouse’s vertical space? Lift truck forks can reach all the way to the top of high pallet racks, but getting staff up and down safely is another story altogether. OSHA Rules Covering Forklift Work Platforms for Elevated Tasks Rather than buying a dedicated personnel lift,…more

The Easiest Way to Carry Drywall at Construction Sites

Ergonomics in the construction industry has come a long way, but there are still materials that present particular handling challenges. Large panels are among the most difficult to transport and install; there’s simply no easy way to grasp them. At least with windows and other plates of glass, you can use a vacuum lift. Moving drywall is another story. Even on today’s construction sites, you’ll often see workers carrying drywall or plywood overhead, even resting the load on their hardhats. That’s a surefire way to develop musculoskeletal injuries like tension neck syndrome, tendinitis, and bursitis. So what’s the solution? Panel Carts for the Construction Industry Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best. Move panels as close to the installation site…more

How Tilt Tables Improve Ergonomics for Order Packing

Perfecting ergonomics is a never-ending challenge, especially in material handling applications. You may have your Shipping/Receiving Desks set up perfectly for your staff, with corners cut to reduce reaching. You might even provide Lift Tables to adjust the height of certain work tasks. But what happens when a client changes package sizes on you? As the size and placement of shipping containers change, so do the ergonomic demands of packing and unpacking them. This burden falls heavily on order packers and shipping/receiving staff, who might have to work with 100 different-sized cartons a day. The solution is simple. When the conditions of work change from order to order, provide a working surface that can make up the difference. We’re talking,…more

Ergonomic Safety Standards for Manual Material Handling: A Global Phenomenon

The United States is unique among industrialized nations in its approach to ergonomics legislation. Many employers abroad are legally compelled to protect workers from the risks of injury associated with manual material handling. Although, in the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is left to correct the most egregious ergonomic violations with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act of 1970, a legal tool that’s blunted by the broadness of its language. (For more on how this came to pass, read our coverage here). Employers who are dedicated to preventing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace can learn a lot from the occupational safety laws of other nations, no matter where they do business. Here’s a brief…more

Write Off Your Battery Extractor System This Year

Two scenarios: A Battery Extractor System is purchased with a total cost of $500,000. Total annual spend on equipment is less than $2,000,000. Section 179 allows a full deduction of $500,000 of your Battery Extractor System. 100% of the cost! Total annual spend on equipment is greater than $2,000,000. Bonus depreciation:  $250,000 Standard depreciation:  $35,714 Total depreciation expense:  $285,714 Nearly 60% of the cost! This information and examples are for illustration purposes only.  Please consult your tax advisor for advice on your specific situation. As you may be aware, Congress recently passed the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH Act).  This law includes several tax breaks, including permanently extending Section 179 expensing and extending bonus depreciation. Section 179 allows…more

OSHA Requirements for Testing Industrial Lifting Equipment

You can’t leave anything to chance in an industrial setting. The material handling equipment you need to keep shipments moving in a warehouse, or to send raw materials down the line in a manufacturing facility, has to be tested before it’s put into daily use. That’s not just common sense; it’s also the law. It might not surprise you to learn that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is very clear about material handling equipment in the workplace. Not only must every gantry crane, Lift Table, and forklift battery handling device stand up to strict proof tests, they must be periodically inspected to make sure they remain safe to use, even after years of hard lifting. Here’s what you need…more

How OSHA Uses the NIOSH Lifting Equation to Address Ergonomic Hazards in Manual Material Handling Tasks

Anyone who has a question about a workplace safety standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can go straight to the source for answers. The agency regularly publishes Standard Interpretations, which are responses to the letters they receive asking for clarification on a particular regulation. In 2015, OSHA published 67 of these letters; between January and May of 2016, four more of these documents appeared on their website. A few of these letters concern ergonomics, with a particular focus on the question of safe lifting limits. That makes sense; ergonomic considerations are conspicuously absent from the OSHA regulations, leaving many workers and their employers confused as to the legalities of certain manual material handling tasks. (Learn more…more

OSHA Regulations Don’t Cover Ergonomics — But That Doesn’t Mean They Can’t Issue Fines for Ergonomic Violations

Rosemary Stewart of Elida, Ohio, was convinced that her employers were asking too much. She was frequently required to lift heavy loads, and she didn’t have access to Lift Tables or other material handling equipment. Some of these loads weighed up to 100 pounds, and Stewart rightly worried about the potential for injury. Surely there must be some kind of law about this, she reasoned. So she wrote a letter to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). A little while later, she received a response — though it wasn’t exactly what she had hoped to hear. “We apologize for the delay in our response to your letter,” wrote Thomas Galassi, Director of Enforcement Programs at OSHA. “You had a…more

Creating A Proactive Ergonomics Action Plan for Safer Material Handling

Why should you care about ergonomics? Worker’s compensation claims are likely a major expense for your facility, and even if you’re running a relatively small operation, you’ll eventually face an on-the-job injury caused by repetitive stress. This is bad for the worker, the facility, and the quality of the product, which is why ergonomic material handling should be a primary focus at every operation. However, you need a forward-thinking approach to realize benefits. There’s no sense in waiting for a claim and the costs that come with it (such as training a temporary worker or stopping work on certain tasks until you’re able to fix the problem). A proactive approach to workplace ergonomics will identify potential problems before they turn…more