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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 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

Compressed Gas Safety for Warehouses and Distribution Centers

Even veteran material-handling experts break into a cold sweat when faced with a shipment of compressed gas. Gas cylinders carry unique hazards, and employees must treat them more carefully than virtually any other material in the warehouse. To add to the challenge, gas containers are shaped awkwardly. They don’t fit onto pallets or typical racks. Good luck trying to pick them up with a standard forklift or a pallet jack. Without specialized equipment, inexperienced employees may give into the temptation to move gas cylinders in dangerously improper ways. The consequences of mishandling gas canisters are dire. In 2014 alone, pressurized containers caused 6,280 nonfatal injuries in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those injuries, 1,700…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