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Safe Material Handling and Storage for Marble, Granite, and Stone Slabs

Construction materials are often heavy and irregularly shaped, leading to considerable material handling challenges. In any facility that houses building materials, though, slabs of marble, granite, and stone may be the toughest items to store and transport. These unique materials require specialized equipment and proper training to keep staff safe. Luckily, experts at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have put together a comprehensive Safety and Health Information Bulletin that addresses this issue head-on. Here are the most important takeaways from that publication, along with a few other tips we’ve learned along the way: Choose Storage Racks That Are Designed for Heavy Sheet Materials Perhaps the most dangerous thing about stone building materials is that they’re incredibly heavy. Larger units…more

Improve Material Storage Safety in Industrial Settings

“Material storage” is a simple term for a pretty complex topic. If all the materials that workers in factories, warehouses, and construction sites use fit onto pallets, everything would be much simpler. Here in the real world, though, industrial staff have to learn how to handle and store cylinders, drums, heavy bags, bundles, tubes, and just about any other configuration of matter you can think of. Handling these materials is hard enough. Storing them comes with a whole new set of challenges. Luckily, experts have studied the issue of storing materials that can’t be simply built onto a pallet. Here are a few tips from OSHA and other material handling specialists about how to improve safety while storing common industrial…more

Industrial Racks for Landscaping Materials: The Ergonomic Benefits

Landscaping is a growing field, and that’s not just a grass pun. In 2016, the IBIS World Market Report listed an annual growth of 3.9 percent for the landscape services industry. Landscaping already employed nearly 1 million people in the U.S. that year; it wouldn’t be surprising if we surpassed the 1 million mark in 2017. That’s a lot of people to teach about proper material handling techniques. You can’t automate the building of a retaining wall, so manual material handling is just part of the landscaping job for the foreseeable future. If we’re not careful about education, a lot of people may end up with strains, sprains, and bad backs this summer. It may seem strange, but one of…more

Ergonomic Solutions for Electrical Contractors

The risk of shock isn’t the only occupational hazard that electrical contractors face on a daily basis. Like many construction trades, electrical work is full of ergonomic hazards that can cause serious injuries. Spools of wire, bundles of conduit, and tools themselves can cause significant stress on muscles when workers try to lift them. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has called lifting heavy items “one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace.” Two factors typically play into a musculoskeletal disorder caused by working in the electrical industry: overexertion and cumulative tissue damage. Avoid both risk factors with these simple ergonomic tips: Use a forklift to lift and transport the heaviest materials on the job. These…more

The Ergonomics Sandbox: A New Way to Prevent Musculoskeletal Injuries in the Workplace

In 2013, a major tire manufacturer was facing a familiar problem. Too many employees were being injured on the job. This wasn’t a case of faulty processes or malfunctioning equipment. The simple fact was that staff members were working in conditions that made certain injuries inevitable. The plant in question hadn’t yet enacted ergonomics reforms, and the nature of the job involved working with large, heavy, and awkward structures. Every time a worker lifted an object, they increased the risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder. Toward the end of 2013, safety officers at a plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina instituted a new ergonomics drive. The “Push, Pull, Lift” campaign was designed just to train workers on safe techniques for common…more

Warehouse Equipment Checklist for Omnichannel Retailers

Sooner or later, most small and medium-sized retail operations will need to enter the online space to continue growing. For traditional brick-and-mortar stores, this can be a daunting project. Once your operation grows to a certain size, you’ll have to run your own warehouse, big or small, to fill orders. Very few entrepreneurs happen to double as material handling professionals. That can leave them in the dark when the time comes to set up a functional order-fulfillment process. This checklist outlines the essential equipment every warehouse needs to function efficiently and safely. It might not include everything you’ll need for your own unique stock, but it’s an excellent starting place for a bare-bones warehousing operation: Industrial Shelving/Storage Racks Rows of…more

Preventative Maintenance for AGV Batteries

Automatic guided vehicles (or automated guided vehicles, depending on who you ask) are touted as the future of material handling. They’re driverless forklifts or carts that follow paths through floor implants, pre-programmed routes, or by using cameras or laser guidance. As advanced as AGV technology has become in recent years, one thing about these devices will be familiar to anyone who has worked with traditional electric forklifts: the battery. Many AGVs use batteries that are very similar — even identical — to electric forklift batteries. Some may use NiCad, lithium ion, or even hydrogen fuel cell batteries, but AGVs that rely on counterbalance to lift loads overwhelmingly favor flooded lead-acid batteries. That’s why users of electric forklifts will already be…more

Collaborative Automation and the Reshoring of American Manufacturing

Between 2000 and 2010, the United States lost 6 million manufacturing jobs. Pundits and politicians offer a variety of explanations for how and why this happened. Depending on their political affiliation, talking heads might blame offshoring, illegal immigration, or bad trade deals. Among these conflicting ideas, there is one point that everyone seems to agree with: Workers are being replaced by increasingly effective machines. Automation is certainly a factor in the decline of high-paying manufacturing jobs. But the claim that “robots are taking our jobs” fails to tell the whole story. In fact, American automation might be the key to reclaiming manufacturing as a national strength. A manufacturing segment dominated by automation won’t lead to the worker’s paradise of previous…more

An Industrial Revolution in the Battery Room: Industry 4.0 and Battery Care

Think back to fifth-grade history class. You were probably taught that the Industrial Revolution took place in the early-to-mid 19th century, when the steam engine reshaped manufacturing techniques in dramatic ways. Well, things have changed — including history. Industrial academics now say that there wasn’t just one Industrial Revolution. There were four of them, and we’re in the midst of the fourth, or “Industry 4.0,” today. So what does all this have to do with improving a facility’s use and maintenance of industrial batteries? As it turns out, quite a bit. The Data Revolution of Industry 4.0 If the steam engine heralded the first Industrial Revolution, then the second was marked by the rise of the assembly line. Automated manufacturing…more

OSHA Updates Rules on Work Surfaces and Fall Protection; Will Your Personnel Lifts Comply?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a final rule on one of its most far-reaching safety standards for general industry. On January 17, 2017, all employers must comply with new standards designed to protect workers from the risk of falling off of work surfaces. This is a serious issue in the warehousing industry. As pallet racks have grown taller and taller, driven by the economics of vertical space and technological advances in high lift trucks, the need to lift staff to the upper reaches of the facility has increased substantially. Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming changes to familiar OSHA standards, particularly as they relate to personnel lift devices that attach to forklifts: The changes…more