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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 advise 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

Adjust the Angle of Work Surfaces to Prevent Repetitive Stress Injuries

By the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ last count, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) made up 32 percent of all workplace injuries in 2014. That number is even higher in the warehousing industry, which has the highest incidence rate for MSDs in the nation — by quite a bit. In fact, that year saw an incidence rate of 89.9 for MSDs in the transportation and warehousing industry. The next highest rate, found in the ergonomically-challenged health care and social assistance industry, only had an MSD incident rate of 46.9. Part of the danger to warehouse staff boils down to repetitive packing and unpacking tasks. For workers who fill or empty containers, there’s a simple solution to reduce the ergonomic risk-factor. If you can…more

How to Prevent Coasting, Drifting, and Leak Down in Hydraulic Lifts

If you work with hydraulic lift tables, you’ve probably encountered a frustrating scenario: You get the lift at the precise elevation you need for a job, and then the darn thing scoots upwards just enough to cause a problem. Either that or it dips down when you add a load. These are unwanted side-effects of the hydraulic technology that powers industrial lifts. But with a little smart engineering, coasting and leak down can be reduced to near-zero rates. Understanding Coasting, Drifting, and Leak Down Drifting and leak down are two terms for the same problem; a small amount of hydraulic fluid gets around the cylinder seals or a check or lowering valve, changing the pressure in the lines. That lets…more

Customize Lift Tables for Any Task With Tabletop Attachments

A Lift Table from BHS may be the most versatile piece of material handling equipment in your facility. These hydraulic-powered lifts incorporate into just about any production line, they allow you to create variable-height work stations for any task, and, of course, they effortlessly lift loads of up to 6,000 pounds. In short, Lift Tables are an ergonomist’s dream. Thanks to a growing line of innovative tabletop attachments, though, they’re also the apple of any industrial engineer’s eye. While BHS can fabricate any tabletop you can imagine, the company offers ready-made solutions for common challenges in a range of industries. These existing designs, organized by application, should get your imagination going: Manufacturing – Assembly lines are constantly evolving. When you…more

How Forklift Battery Handling Equipment Helps to Meet Federal Safety Regulations

There are a couple of basic regulatory safety issues to keep in mind when you outfit your battery room. OSHA regulations require a “conveyor, overhead hoist, or equivalent material handling equipment” to assist staff in changing forklift batteries. The reasoning is plain: Forklift batteries are heavy. Without the proper mechanical assistance, staff members are at a high risk of workplace injury when changing batteries out. Complying With OSHA’s Material Handling Standard for the Battery Room When OSHA wrote their key battery handling regulation, they probably had a gantry crane in mind. These standards were written when more lift trucks required vertical extraction, rather than the safer side-pull compartments featured in many newer designs. If you use a gantry for changing-out…more