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OSHA

Safety Requirements for the Forklift Battery Room: Back to Basics

There are two very important reasons to maintain a safe battery room — to protect employees and to comply with federal and local regulations. Heavy-duty, ergonomic battery-changing equipment with abundant safety features helps every operation using electric forklifts to accomplish both these goals at the same time. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gives both general and specific guidance to battery room operators. The General Duty Clause of the OSH Act is the umbrella law that requires employers to “furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” That description is crucial but vague, so let’s look…more

OSHA Guidelines for Forklift Traffic on Dock Ramps and Yard Ramps

Loading ramps can be perilous places for forklift operation. So it’s no surprise that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has quite a bit to say on the topic. Much of their advice is common sense, but it never hurts to have a refresher and a checklist of requirements for investing in dock ramps. Some of the more general requirements address ensuring a slow, controlled ascent or descent on the ramp. Here are a few specific requirements: 29 CFR 1926.451(e)(5)(ii) – “No ramp or walkway shall be inclined more than a slope of one vertical to three horizontal (20 degrees above the horizontal).” 29 CFR 1910.178(n)(7) – “Grades shall be ascended or descended slowly.” 29 CFR 1910.178(m)(6) – “A…more

Customize Shipping Room Desks to Optimize Shipping/Receiving Tasks

Workstations make a difference, and standard, off-the-shelf shipping room desks could be cutting into your productivity in more ways than one. People think of ergonomic improvements in the workplace as benefitting the employees. While that’s undeniably true, that doesn’t mean that employers don’t benefit as well—and we’re not just talking about reductions in sick days and injuries. By eliminating the need for inefficient and often repetitive movements, ergonomic improvements can increase worker productivity. So, if ergonomics is a magic bullet that keeps staff healthy and increases productivity, why don’t all warehouses embrace it? The answer is that improving ergonomics is not a magic bullet at all, but an ongoing process to identify and eliminate unsafe and inefficient practices. That can…more

How Warehouse Ergonomics Can Help You Cope with Labor Shortages

The logistics and warehousing industries are facing substantial labor shortages. A 2015 study presented at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) conference showed issues with labor availability throughout the sectors; however, the CSCMP’s 2018 survey noted that the vast majority of 3PL professionals agreed upon an increased need “to respond to customers more quickly and with complete, accurate, and consistent information.” In other words: Labor shortages will occur, but they can’t slow down your operation. In the warehouse, even a temporary labor shortage can have drastic effects, and while they’re a standard part of doing business, successful managers should know how to work through them. Of course, that’s easier said than done. According to the Third-Party Logistics Study,…more

Earthquake Preparedness in the Warehousing Industry

Because of their unpredictable nature and powerful tremors, earthquakes pose a unique threat to the warehousing industry. These two qualities make it difficult to evacuate a warehouse without risking injury from toppling racks or falling merchandise. Earthquakes will always pose a danger to people inside buildings. But there are still relatively inexpensive steps warehouse managers can take to reduce injury risks and property damage. Prepare employees and secure items before a quake hits. Educating staff with earthquake training is a great first step toward reducing or eliminating casualties and injuries. By knowing the safest procedures, staff will be calmer and make better choices in the event of an earthquake. All staff should learn the rule, “Drop, cover, and hold on.”…more

Customize Order Picking Carts for Unique Applications

Order Picking Carts (OPC) from BHS provide simple material handling for order picking and other industrial tasks. However, sometimes clients need special modifications of these heavy-duty steel carts in order to meet a unique workplace challenge. That’s why BHS offers full customization for OPCs. Engineers at BHS design carts from the ground up to fit into highly specific applications at the customer’s request. Unlike many providers of warehouse equipment, BHS strives to accommodate clients who need custom equipment. The manufacturing team at BHS constructs products to order at their 138,000 square-foot campus in St. Louis, Missouri. This gives them the freedom to customize products, including the Order Picking Cart, down to the invention of entirely new types of material handling…more

Ergonomic Hazards in the Forklift Battery Room: Problems and Solutions

Addressing major hazards in the battery room like fires, explosions, and acid burns can lead some managers to neglect the smaller ergonomic issues. Unfortunately, these small issues can also become big problems when left unaddressed. Luckily, common-sense precautions allow battery-room managers to protect employees from both kinds of risk. Here are some straightforward ways to address recurrent ergonomic issues in the battery room. Let machines do the hard work with battery-changing equipment. The most obvious ergonomic improvement managers can make to a battery room is using specialized equipment that makes changing forklift batteries easier. Outdated or inappropriate battery handling equipment can lead to back injuries from lifting and twisting. It also increases the chances of batteries falling, which can be…more

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