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The Importance of Following OSHA Material Handling Guidelines

Posted by EHS Insight Resources on July 11, 2019 at 8:36 AM

When you’re trying to stay on top of building materials, chances are good that you’re focused primarily on the project.

But you can’t lose sight of the big picture. Almost any material can pose a risk to your workers if it’s handled improperly – and under OSHA material handling guidelines, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees handle those materials safely.

OSHA guidelines aren’t just about punishing employers for failing to protect their workers. The guidelines are focused on keeping your employees safe, which at the end of the day is good for business.

Here are a few important reasons why you should be paying attention to OSHA’s material handling guidelines.

Keep Your Workers Safe from Hazards

First and foremost, following these guidelines help keep your workers safe from potential hazards.

When moving materials, workers are subject to all sorts of potential risks they may not even think about. They could get sprains from lifting heavy loads improperly. They get fractures from being struck by objects. They could get cuts, bruises, or even burns from materials stored improperly.

As an employer, it’s your job to keep your workers safe. It’s also your job to ensure that your employees know how to work safely.

OSHA guidelines require you to train your employees in safe workplace practices. They should know how to operate machinery, how to safely move materials, and how to handle potentially hazardous materials.

Protect Against Workplace Injuries

All of this means that OSHA material handling guidelines help protect your workers against workplace injuries.

OSHA defines ergonomics as the practice of crafting a job to fit the employee, rather than the other way around. This helps avoid work injuries and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, rotator cuff injuries, and low back injuries.

It’s especially important in material handling when workers are put through any number of stresses on any given day.

Take heavy lifting, for example. A number of factors combine to make this a high-risk activity for workers, including:

  • Weight of the object
  • Awkward posture
  • Inadequate holds
  • Improper lifting technique
  • High-frequency lifting
  • Long-duration lifting

OSHA’s ergonomic guidelines for material handling help minimize the risk of your employees suffering injuries. Instead of just getting the job done, your employees will get the job done right so that they can keep showing up to work.

Protect Your Equipment

Of course, these guidelines don’t just keep your workers safe. They also help protect your equipment.

Think of it this way. Let’s say your employees are handling flammable or combustible materials using equipment. And let’s say they’re handling those materials incorrectly. Lo and behold, a fire breaks out.

Now, on top of potential employee injuries, your workplace is damaged, the equipment used to handle those materials is damaged, and the materials themselves have to be replaced. In short, you’ve got a first-class mess on your hands.

Depending on what equipment is damaged and how badly it’s damaged, you could be staring down an expensive repair bill on top of project delays and workers compensation payments if a worker was harmed.

Now, picture an alternative version of the story. Instead of creating an expensive disaster, your employees handled the flammable materials safely. No workers or equipment were harmed and everyone went home happy.

Which one sounds like a more productive workplace? Which one sounds healthier for your bottom line? The choice is obvious.

Navigating OSHA Material Handling Guidelines

Navigating OSHA material handling guidelines can often feel like an uphill battle. Many employers don’t know where to begin.

That’s where we can help. We offer comprehensive EHS compliance software so that you can better manage compliance and keep your projects on track. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help, request a free trial today.

Topics: OSHA, Regulatory Information, Risk Management, Compliance, Safety Management, Building Materials & Construction

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