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Safety

In any industrial workplace, safety is the first priority. These blog posts provide knowledge and resources for keeping staff safe, even in high-risk occupations.

Topics

  • Construction Ergonomics: Safety Solutions for Overhead Work

    The right construction ergonomics program can prevent costly injuries, improve staff morale, and boost productivity. But different tasks create different ergonomic risks. Workers who spend most of the shift with arms raised and necks tilted back — while installing conduit, ducting, or overhead lighting, for instance — may develop any number of musculoskeletal disorders. Here are a few tips for... Continue Reading
  • The Electrician’s Guide to Careers in Construction Month

    October is Careers in Construction Month, a yearly promotion led by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The event is meant to spread awareness about construction trades, including electricians — a worthwhile effort, given this age of labor shortages in the construction trades. So how can construction electricians participate in this industry event? Here are just a few ideas... Continue Reading
  • Electricians and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Common Symptoms and Prevention Tips

    For electricians, musculoskeletal disorders remain a serious occupational hazard. Electrical installation teams aren’t alone with this risk; workers in most construction trades face a higher risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders than those in other industries. Between 1992 and 2014, the rate of occupation-based musculoskeletal disorders remained higher in the construction industry than in all combined industries. This disproportionate rate of... Continue Reading
  • BHS, Inc. Expands Product Line of Gas Cylinder-Handling Equipment

    September 3, 2018 — St. Louis, MO — BHS, Inc., a leading manufacturer of industrial equipment, is growing a popular line of products designed to store and transport compressed gas cylinders. These products meet stringent rules from OSHA and the Compressed Gas Association, while providing users with convenient solutions to the challenges of handling pressurized contents. “Compressed gas cylinders are special materials, and they need special material handling equipment to keep risks to a minimum,” said Melissa Bowen of BHS Marketing. “We’ll keep coming up with new cylinder-handling products as long as our customers keep asking for them.” BHS, Inc. manufactures a range of cylinder storage options, built to alleviate the hazards of working with compressed gas. The newest product... Continue Reading
  • Building a Culture of Electrical Safety in the Construction Industry

    Electrical safety in the construction industry has been studied, argued over, and refined since Thomas Edison started burying copper wires beneath the streets of Manhattan in 1882. From the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — which publishes NFPA 70, otherwise known as the National Electrical Code (NEC) — to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all sorts of safety organization offer important insights into electrical safety. No matter how well a construction electrician understands the NEC or OSHA regulations, though, the key to keeping every employee safe on every jobsite is to build a culture of safety into every workplace task — especially for those who install electrical systems. Safety cultures start at the top. Everyone in a leadership... Continue Reading
  • Preparing the Shipping/Receiving Area for DC Peak Season

    The holiday peak season for distribution centers encompasses both shipping and receiving, making this area a potential efficiency bottleneck. Every DC manager needs a plan for scaling up outbound orders while simultaneously processing returns. The good news is that the elements of this plan don’t need to be expensive or difficult. We’ve already looked at a few strategies for preparing... Continue Reading
  • Making the Most of Automotive Plant Shutdown

    Automakers and other manufacturers use summer shutdowns to perform vital tasks to keep operations running smoothly. While these lulls in output can be expensive — after all, factories are not only stopping production but spending big money on improvements — they can also increase productivity. And when management takes time to carefully plan a plant turnaround, they can reap even... Continue Reading
  • USDA FSIS Regulations and Forklifts in Food-Handling Applications

    Within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is tasked with keeping unsafe food products — particularly meat, poultry, and eggs — out of the U.S. food supply chain. The FSIS carries the weight of law and conducts inspections of food-handling and processing operations to make sure they’re not at risk of spreading foodborne illness.... Continue Reading
  • Understanding the Forklift Stability Triangle

    The forklift stability triangle is a fundamental concept that operators of counterbalanced lift trucks must understand. In order to maintain longitudinal, lateral, and dynamic stability, operators must be able to locate the center of gravity of a loaded truck and ensure that it falls within this imaginary triangle that spans the front axle to the center of the steer axle.... Continue Reading
  • OSHA on Forklift Battery Changing Stations and Workplace Safety

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) addresses industrial battery changing in Parts 1910 and 1926. More specifically, 29 CFR 1910.178(g) and 29 CFR 1910.305(j)(7) address changing and storage of industrial batteries while 29 CFR 1926.441 lists required safety measures during charging. Here’s a summary of the federal code. The Battery-Changing Procedure The change-out itself can be a dangerous process... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards for Sheet Metal Storage at Shops and Warehouses

    Sheet metal isn’t always the simplest material to work with, but choosing the right type of storage can set you up for a safer, more successful material handling environment at the shop or warehouse. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hasn’t written a regulation that refers to sheet metal storage in specific, the standards do offer clues. Here... Continue Reading
  • Sheet Metal Handling at the Jobsite

    Sheet metal handling entails major ergonomic risks when appropriate precautions are not taken. Working in extreme temperatures, placing continuous pressure on the hands, lifting parts with awkward shapes and sizes, and strenuous working positions are all common ergonomic risks on a job site. To protect against these hazards, here are some important tips from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service. Take a... Continue Reading
  • Skilled Labor Shortages in Manufacturing: Doing More with Fewer Employees

    There’s a skilled labor shortage in manufacturing and it’s likely to get worse before it gets better. Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute teamed up for a study of the industry in 2015. They found that over the next decade, manufacturing companies will need 3.4 million workers — but will have a 2 million-worker shortfall. This precipitous drop in skilled talent... Continue Reading
  • Preparing Docks for the Spring and Summer Seasons: What to Expect

    The summer is nearly here, and now’s a good time to start preparing docks and bays at busy distribution centers for the seasonal changes. In particular, warehouse operators should get ready for two trends that are right around the corner: Summer heat — especially at the docks — and a possible uptick in carrier traffic. Consider how freight has been... Continue Reading
  • The Electronic Logging Device Rule and Faster Truck Turn Times at Docks

    Pretty soon, the federal Electronic Logging Device rule that (mostly) went into effect on December 18 of last year will unleash full penalties for violations. As you’ll recall, late last year, truck drivers protested the oncoming mandate, which requires drivers to track all hours in the truck through electronic logging devices. Officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hope... Continue Reading
  • Forklift Work Platforms for Safely Performing Overhead Tasks

    Without Forklift Work Platforms, performing overhead tasks in warehouses is dangerous business. A cursory glance at a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) fact sheet is enough to make a warehouse manager wonder, “What can I do to protect my workers?” That’s where heavy-duty safety equipment like Forklift Work Platforms come in. These dedicated personnel-lifting devices can make overhead tasks, like... Continue Reading
  • Park & Charge Technology for Electric Forklifts: Required Support Equipment

    There is a lively debate between proponents of conventional forklift battery charging and those of fast charging, or park & charge, technology. As with any competing technology, there’s no easy answer about which system is superior. Different fleets have different needs, and that means either type of technology could be a better fit. That said, here are some of the... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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,... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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.... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • Warehousing Pallet Options: What to Know

    Material handling continues to evolve as new technologies emerge, but the humble pallet remains a constant fixture in warehouses around the world. That’s not to say that pallets haven’t changed over the years. Due to specific industry needs and the desire to be sustainable, companies have developed a number of new strategies in regards to pallets, which standardized just about... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics and Pallet Building: Problems and Solutions

    Rising worker’s compensation claims and an aging workforce responsible for pallet building tasks are causing warehouse managers to rethink their processes. Add in the fact that industry experts project the use of pallets to increase through 2019, and you can see why it’s necessary to reevaluate the pallet building and unloading process. Even if warehouse managers didn’t care about productivity... Continue Reading
  • Measuring Electrical Conduit Sizes at the Job Site

    For electricians, pulling cable is only half the job. Before they can even begin installing the cabling, they have to create vast networks of electrical conduit. Electricians typically run multiple cables through a single raceway, so it’s vital that they know how much space is available inside the duct. That isn’t always apparent at a glance. The trade sizes of... Continue Reading
  • Forklift Work Platforms and OSHA Compliance

    There’s an inherent risk in elevating staff using a forklift work platform. Given that risk, it’s no surprise that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has quite a bit to say on the matter. In fact, at one point the federal agency even discussed banning the use of forklifts as a support for work platforms. After a lengthy discussion, OSHA... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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.... Continue Reading
  • Switching from Liquid Propane to Electric Forklifts in the Produce Industry

    In the mid-1990s, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) noticed an alarming trend. The state is the country’s largest provider of 11 types of produce, including apples, Concord grapes, and pears. In fruit-packing warehouses across the state, workers were being exposed to dangerous — and sometimes even poisonous — levels of carbon monoxide on the job. A... Continue Reading
  • What Type of Forklift is Right for Your Warehouse?

    When it’s time to build a forklift fleet, start by choosing the right power source. The choice between electric and internal-combustion (IC) trucks is not just an issue of expense. It’s also crucial to running a safe business. That’s because internal combustion engines — whether they’re powered by diesel or by propane — emit carbon monoxide. This dangerous gas can... Continue Reading
  • The Difference Between OSHA and NIOSH — and How They Work Together

    Love it or hate it, every warehouse manager knows what the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does. But OSHA isn’t the only federal organization dedicated to preserving the health of American workers. There’s also the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). So what’s the difference between OSHA and NIOSH? Why does the United States need two separate... Continue Reading
  • Efficient Forklift Battery Watering Without Single Point Systems

    Integrated Watering Systems are the gold standard for watering forklift batteries. For industrial operations that have the means to install them, these automated watering systems are a great investment. But what about the many, many facilities that aren’t ready to move to a single point system? In 2015, industry publication Modern Materials Handling reported that 70 percent of North American... Continue Reading
  • Prevent Boil-Over with Forklift Battery Watering Tools

    Forklift battery boil-over is sometimes accepted as a standard risk of battery room management, but overflow incidents are far from unavoidable. In fact, if your operation has encountered multiple boil-overs this year, you should evaluate your equipment and make sure that you’re adequately outfitted. Boil-overs are dangerous for workers — and expensive for facilities. When battery acid contacts a sealed... Continue Reading
  • Moving and Storing Compressed Gas Cylinders Safely

    If you work with compressed gas, those big metal cylinders are the most dangerous items in your facility. They can explode like bombs, fall like anvils, and even blast through the room like rockets. Plus, let’s not forget, they’re filled with gas that might be flammable, poisonous, corrosive, or any combination of those hazards. But if you do work with... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • 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... Continue Reading
  • Regulating Hydrogen in the Battery Room

    The most dangerous thing in your battery room isn’t sulfuric acid. It isn’t even forklift batteries themselves, despite their crushing weight. The truly hazardous byproduct of charging batteries is invisible, tasteless, and odorless. It is lighter than air. And even a relatively small volume of it can cause a serious explosion. We’re talking, of courses, about hydrogen. Battery charging areas... Continue Reading
  • Designing a Better Forklift Battery Room

    So you’ve decided you need a new battery room. Maybe your current battery charging area is outdated, or perhaps your fleet is just now large enough to justify the expense. Regardless of the reason, your new battery room’s success depends on a great plan — from choosing the ideal location to optimizing equipment. Battery room planning tools from BHS help... Continue Reading
  • Washing Forklift Batteries and the Law: What You Need to Know

    Washing forklift batteries is a simple maintenance task, but like so many warehouse operations, this activity is subject to serious legal regulations. Don’t let that scare you away from the job; washes extend the operating life of your batteries and lift trucks, plus they keep your workplace safer. But it’s crucial that you obey the law when you wash batteries.... Continue Reading
  • Using Battery Wash Equipment to Optimize the Washing Process

    You know you have to wash your forklift batteries, but what’s the best way to go about it? The right gear can save your operation time and money, while preventing costly accidents. Here are a few guidelines for creating a battery wash procedure that’s simple, effective, and affordable. For optimal safety and efficiency, choose an automated solution. Washing forklift batteries... Continue Reading
  • Safety Tips for Washing Forklift Batteries

    If you want to keep your forklifts running at peak efficiency, you must wash your batteries. But washing forklift batteries isn’t without its challenges. The runoff from the process is full of acid traces and heavy metals that aren’t safe for your employees. Luckily, there are some simple solutions to increase safety during battery washes. By following these tips, you... Continue Reading
  • How to Avoid Acid Damage in the Battery Room

    Forklift batteries are essentially giant tubs of acid. While you can’t prevent the occasional drip or spill, you can — and definitely should — protect your floors and equipment from the caustic effects of battery electrolyte. According to the Portland Cement Association, concrete is particularly vulnerable to acids. Acidic liquid drains into the pores in concrete and eats away at... Continue Reading
  • TCLP Analysis: How Environmental Regulators Test Your Battery Wastewater

    If you’re washing your forklift batteries (and you are washing them, right?) then you’re also producing hazardous waste. Battery wash water contains traces of sulfuric acid and toxic metals that the EPA regulates heavily. In order to avoid enormous fines and possibly even criminal charges, every facility manager should understand exactly how the EPA goes about determining whether your wastewater... Continue Reading
  • What is Forklift Battery Gassing and How Do You Manage it?

    Next time you’re in the forklift battery room, look up. You should see an extensive system of vents and ducts above the battery stands — if not, it’s probably time to redesign your charging area. Battery room ventilation systems remove the excess hydrogen that can build up above charging batteries. But why do forklift batteries leak hydrogen? Understanding the causes... Continue Reading
  • 5 Pieces of Essential Safety Equipment for Battery Charging Areas

    While forklift batteries present some challenges, they are extremely safe when paired with appropriate safety equipment and well-trained personnel. In fact, with some planning, the process of changing and charging lift truck batteries can be as safe as filling a car’s gas tank. Battery room hazards are usually related to four specific issues: the great weight of the batteries, the... Continue Reading
  • Using Signs and Labels to Improve Battery Room Safety

    Safety is the most important factor in every battery room, and many of the potential hazards of battery change-outs can be mitigated with a decidedly low-tech solution: signage. Clear, discernable signs can prevent workplace accidents by pointing out hazardous areas and marking vital safety equipment for quick access. It’s important to note that battery rooms are extremely safe when properly... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part Four: Construction Industry Standards

    Comparing Battery Handling Regulations for General Industry and Construction In the previous two posts, we provided a basic introduction to OSHA regulations for battery rooms in general industries. This post will examine OSHA standard 1926.441, which addresses batteries and battery charging in the construction industry. The relationship between the battery handling regulations in standards 1910 and 1926 is complex. In... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part Three: The Rest of OSHA 1910

    OSHA’s Rules on Safety Equipment in Battery Changing Areas In our previous post, we discussed the OSHA standards that refer specifically to changing and charging batteries for powered industrial trucks: 29 CFR 1910.178(g). While this code forms the core of the OSHA requirements for battery handling, safety regulations from other parts of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards for general... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part Two: OSHA 1910.178(g)

    Interpreting OSHA General Industry Regulations for Safe Battery Handling Regulations are a big part of running your facility, and regardless of your industry, OSHA guidelines are especially important. In this blog, we’ll take a look at these detailed (and occasionally confusing) guidelines and try to provide a general overview. Remember, if you need to ensure compliance, you may need to... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards in the Battery Room — Part One: Introduction to OSHA Regulations

    Are you using lift trucks safely? Warehousing operations in the United States are legally bound to protect workers from unsafe conditions, as defined by The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). While OSHA standards dictate workplace safety practices in all aspects of the warehousing industry, few areas are more impacted by these safety regulations than the battery room. Oversights in... Continue Reading
  • Avoiding Forklift Collision Damage in Cold Storage Warehouses

    According to the industry journal Frozen Food Age, forklift collisions are more frequent in cold storage warehouses than in traditional facilities — partially due to the unique challenges of operating in colder environments, but also due to unique issues that tend to accompany warehouse design and layout in these operations. As forklift accidents can damage equipment or infrastructure, cold storage... Continue Reading
  • Promote Staff Retention in Cold Storage Facilities with Better Equipment and Practices

    For managers of cold storage warehouses, employee retention is nothing short of essential — it’s a crucial factor in developing a leaner, more efficient operation. Unfortunately, lift truck operators in cold storage facilities leave for other positions more frequently than equivalent job holders in conventional warehouses. The turnover rate for material handling positions in the refrigerated storage industry has soared... Continue Reading
  • Bundle Up: Preparing the Warehouse for Winter

    Winter weather can have a huge and costly impact on warehouse operations. Having a winter preparedness strategy for your warehouse will help your facility stay on track with safety and productivity. Top winter safety concerns in the warehouse include temperature control, infrastructure maintenance, dry surfaces, airflow, lighting, sealing and weatherproofing, and personnel care. We’ve compiled a list of area-specific winter... Continue Reading