The term “manual materials handling”, or MMH, usually referrers to the handling, lifting, and moving of inanimate objects in the workplace without the benefit of mechanical assistance. Some form of manual materials handling takes place in almost every job, but employees who work in factories, warehouses and distribution centers handle objects without support more often than employees in other industries. And as it happens, research shows that MMH is the most common source of work-related lower back pain and occupational fatigue. In fact, three out of four Canadian workers who lift and move objects on a regular basis will suffer from back pain or back injury at least once.
Preventing MMH Injuries
There are no demographics that indicate a greater risk for MHH injury. Both genders and all ages are equally susceptible to strain, fatigue and back pain. Women and men are not statistically variant in their ability to lift and move objects, and while workers over the age of 45 may lose physical strength, their bodies typically adapt by applying years of ingrained experience to the lifting process. In fact, younger workers suffer a higher number of back injuries while lifting loads of the same weight and size. So preventing MMH hazards should not excuse gender and age discrimination.
Instead, preventing MMH injures should involve a careful evaluation of required tasks and the provision of tools, protective gear, and safe lifting equipment. For smaller tasks, a supportive belt can prevent hernia and muscle strain. Proper safety training provided by qualified experts can also reduce lifting injuries. But most important: Workers should be provided with devices that offer the leverage and lifting support they need.
The Benefit of Forklifts
Forklifts and mechanized lifting equipment, like overhead cranes, may require an initial outlay of capital. But this cost should be considered an investment in worker safety and productivity. Forklifts now include advanced ergonomic and safety features, and the fuel efficiency of both gas and battery powered lifting equipment has increased in recent years. With sophisticated mast-stability features and a growing ratio of lifting power to size and maneuverability, forklifts are becoming a necessary feature of almost any materials-handling workplace.
Versatile designs are now available, including narrow-aisle forklift models and a range of lifting extensions and attachments. Now may be the perfect time to examine the costs and benefits of various forklift models that may protect your employees and meet the unique needs of your workplace.
For more information on lifting equipment and injury prevention, reach out to the materials handling staffing experts at Lift Temp.