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Material Handling Ergonomics: Using the “Golden Zone” for Safer Lifting

Warehouse managers often focus on equipment solutions to ergonomics issues. And while there’s good reason to invest in assistive lifting equipment, there are cheaper and easier ways to get big returns. The number one way? Teach workers to lift in the ergonomic “golden zone.” The Dangers of Poor Lifting Technique The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2015, musculoskeletal disorders, such as sprains and strains caused by heavy lifting, made up 31 percent—356,910 individual cases—of all workplace injuries. The predictable and preventable nature of these injuries makes them an obvious target for managers looking to increase productivity. Reducing the number of musculoskeletal injuries is simple in theory but requires constant attention in practice. Here are some tips for…more

How Better Warehouse Ergonomics Improves Productivity

In the not-so-distant past, managers viewed warehouse ergonomics as mostly a matter of worker comfort—it was a nice thing to provide, but not a necessity. And while comfort is certainly one element of ergonomics, it is just one of many benefits of safer and more efficient processes. A more essential and frequently overlooked advantage to good ergonomics is improved productivity. Better ergonomics equals less bottlenecking. To those who have studied warehouse operations, there is a definite relationship between poor ergonomics and bottlenecks in processes. Jim Galante, chairman of the Ergonomic Assist Systems and Equipment (EASE) Council, talked to Modern Materials Handling about how removing bottlenecks frequently requires ergonomic solutions. “You almost can’t have one without the other since wasted motion,…more

Warehouse Ergonomics: Order Picking and Pallet Building Safety Tips

October is National Ergonomics Month, and in honor of this yearly reminder to match “the work to the worker,” we’re reviewing two of the most common tasks in the distribution warehouse: order picking and pallet building. Both of these jobs traditionally contribute to the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as strains, sprains, and pulled muscles. The reasons for this are clear. Without the proper ergonomic training and the right equipment, both jobs require workers to reach, to stretch, to twist and bend and to repeat those actions again and again, hour after hour. Freight, stock, and material movers were among the top three occupations that had the highest number of injuries involving days away from work in 2015, reports the…more

Year-End Budget Planning: Invest in Electrical Equipment

As the year draws to a close, growing companies may find that they still have the budget for a capital investment or two. The end of the year is a great time to invest in new equipment to make the coming year more productive. Any operation that depends on electrical work, whether that’s in the construction industry, the electrical supply business, or for-hire electrical contracting, has a unique end-of-year opportunity to build an “electrical equipment wish list.” You might already have the tools you need to work to get by, but who couldn’t use a productivity boost? Here are a few pieces of electrical equipment that can make the job much easier for contractors as well as supply houses: Conduit…more

Forklift Battery Handling Equipment for the Coming Year’s Budget

Improved battery room configurations and new equipment can yield big gains in productivity and profitability. As the end of the year draws closer, managers of large forklift fleets consider placing an investment in this type of infrastructure in the coming year’s budget. BHS custom designs its battery handling equipment for safety, efficiency, and lifetime cost savings. A complete system can make battery change-outs, charging, and washing a seamless process that keeps lift trucks running with less downtime.  Even a single piece of well-chosen equipment can make a big difference in a battery room. Carts and carriages are fine for operations that only require one or two battery change-outs per day. A BHS Automatic Transfer Carriage accommodates up to 20 change-outs.…more

Electrician Safety in Cold Outdoor Environments

Electrical contractors can’t simply pack up and wait out the winter weather; eventually, electricians just have to work in the cold. Extreme temperatures create special hazards, especially for electricians, and staying safe in the depths of winter requires special efforts on the part of employers and employees alike. The Occupational Safety and Health Association breaks down their safety rules for working in cold and snow into three categories: plan, equip, and train. Here’s what that means for electricians working outside on a freezing Midwestern or Northern day: Employers should invest in engineering controls to help limit the risk. As you know if you’ve read any of our previous entries on ergonomics, “engineering controls” are the most powerful way to keep…more

Handling and Storing Construction Tools at High-Rise Building Sites

The hazards of working on high-rise construction projects have been well-documented. While self-climbing perimeter protection systems, or “cocoons,” protect workers from falls, there’s another safety risk that cocoons can’t eliminate: injuries involving construction tools. A safety guide from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health offers a few rules to keep construction tools safe: Cal/OSHA requires employees to keep tools “clean and in good repair.” Staff must be trained and experienced in the use of a tool before using it. All powder-actuated tools must be kept in a lockable container, which must remain locked unless authorized personnel retrieve or replace a piece of equipment. Power-operated tools must be kept away from moisture and wetness. While some of these rules…more

4 Common Ergonomic Hazards in Warehouses

Injuries have a big impact on warehouse productivity and profitability, and every warehouse could stand to address common safety hazards. The good news is that warehouse managers can reduce the chance of an on-the-job injury by identifying the most common injury risks and addressing them with training or ergonomic equipment. Safety committees can help identify major risks for your operation. Creating a safety committee can help gather input from many different points of view. These committees should include staff from various areas, including floor workers, shift supervisors, and department managers. For smaller operations, a safety meeting with all staff could replace the safety committee. However an operation manager has to arrange it, crucial safety information must be shared with staff.…more

Improving Manure Management for a Safer “Manure Share”

Manure management has always been a problem for farmers. A little bit of nature’s fertilizer is a wonderful thing. When it accumulates in large stockpiles, though, the natural byproduct of munching cows can pollute the waterways and poison the air. Recently, farmers have introduced a novel way to distribute the 335 million tons of manure that America’s agricultural animals produce every year. These arrangements are called “manure shares,” and they harness the power of the internet to spread the world’s oldest organic fertilizer far and wide. Gardeners and vegetable farmers sign up, animal farmers share out the waste, and everyone goes home happy. In single-serving doses, manure works its nitrogen-rich magic on crops and gardens. Meanwhile, farmers avoid an environmental…more

Stacking Pallets: OSHA Regulations

Stacking empty pallets saves space and removes tripping and collision hazards from warehouse floors. But if you stack pallets carelessly or overly high, warehouse managers could be creating an even bigger hazard. To figure out the best practices for pallet stacking, let’s take a look at what OSHA and other regulators have to say. OSHA addresses pallet stacking in standard 1917.14, which reads, “Cargo, pallets and other material stored in tiers shall be stacked in such a manner as to provide stability against sliding and collapse.” That sounds reasonable. But the question now becomes, “How do you stabilize a stack of pallets?” Stabilizing Pallet Stacks for Optimal Safety Never mix sizes when stacking pallets. An odd-sized pallet near the bottom…more