Working with bagged or bundled components requires unique precautions to protect against injuries. Shifting weight and awkward dimensions are two of the many tricky variables associated with these materials.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a helpful publication that addresses many of the common pitfalls of material handling. From a thorough reading of this document, we can recommend a number of steps to follow when handling bagged or bundled materials.
Moving Bagged or Bundled Components With a Forklift
- Always keep the load centered on the forks as close to the mast as possible. This minimizes both the chance of the load falling off and the forklift tipping.
- Cross-tier stacked loads to promote stability.
- Do not add weight to the rear in order to allow an overload on a counterbalanced forklift.
- Always follow the operational requirements of the lift truck.
Like any items set aside for storage, bagged and bundled materials must be stacked as stably as possible. Employees should be able to easily remove top components without jeopardizing the stability of the stack. Here are some essential rules of stacking:
Stacking Bagged or Bundled Components
- Always stack bagged materials in interlocking rows. This adds stability and keeps lower levels in place even if the stack tips over.
- Use heavy-duty racking with restraints, like the BHS Ground Rack, to promote stack stability.
- Determine height limitations for materials and never stack higher than that. Consider painting a stripe on the wall to indicate the maximum height.
- Do not store pipes or bars in racks that face busy aisles. By doing so workers could create a hazard to passersby when removing the materials.
- Train employees on the limitations and proper use of equipment. Many accidents could be prevented by not overloading lift trucks, slings, racking, or any other warehouse equipment.
Safely storing materials protects the items from damage and staff from injury. When removing items from the stack, keep the following rules in mind.
Lifting Bagged and Bundled Components
- Do not attempt to lift material that is too bulky to properly grip or lift. Use a second person or specialized equipment to aid in lifting.
- Do not carry something so large that you cannot see around or over it. Doing so creates a hazard to that employee and others.
- If a bag or bundle is too unwieldy to safely handle, seek help from another worker.
- Educate your workers on the benefits of ergonomics, and the dangers of improper lifting.
Always yield to common sense and err on the side of safety when handling unwieldy materials. Pushing weight limits and trying to stack more than is advisable ends up being more costly to an organization in the long run. Keep your staff and materials safe by following OSHA’s material handling guidelines.
“Materials Handling and Storage.” OSHA. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor, n.d. Web. 15 May 2017.