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Warehouse Equipment

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

How Pallets Changed the Global Logistics Industry

In a very real way, the simple wooden pallet was the spark that ignited the entire global economy as we know it. Before the advent of pallets during World War II, shipments consisted of awkward piles of boxes, barrels, canisters, and loose product. Warehouse staff would pack trucks any way they could. The process was inefficient in terms of both time and space. Then came the pallet, which co-evolved with the gas-powered lift truck. With forklifts and pallets, material handling efficiency entered the modern era. Wooden pallets are simple structures, but they accomplish incredible things — things that allow supply chains to function smoothly in this age of global logistics and long-distance retail. Here are four key innovations that pallets…more

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 everything into easy-to-handle parcels. While Ancient Egyptians used skids as far back as 1,000 B.C., modern paletts came into existence as a result of the gas-powered forklift and Word War II. The U.S. used tens of millions of pallets to supply troops on both fronts. Innovations like the four-way pallet, which allowed forklifts to pick up pallets from any direction,…more

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 and preventing injuries to their staff, which is an unlikely proposition, insurance companies are insisting that clients implement ergonomic solutions in warehouses to reduce payouts for injured staff. Worker’s Comp Cases Strain Insurers’ Pocketbooks The issue is complex, but it boils down to this: Material handlers are older and in worse shape than they have been in the past, and…more

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 rigid metal electrical conduit don’t always correspond exactly to actual inside diameter. Even worse, bundles of conduit can arrive on-site unlabeled, and it isn’t easy to tell the difference between 1.25- and 1.5-inch conduit with the naked eye. For instance, according to online resource the Engineering ToolBox: 5-inch metal conduit actually has an inside diameter of 0.622 inches. The inside…more

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 decided that, if used properly, the practice could be safe enough to allow. However, they created a list of standards for the use of elevated personnel platforms. Here’s a summary of some of the most important requirements from those standards. Never move a forklift horizontally while a worker is elevated. This is expressly forbidden by OSHA 451(c)(2)(v) and something that…more