Manual Material Handling – Tips for Safe Work Performance

Manual Material Handling

Manual material handling (MMH) means manually moving or handling things by lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, holding or restraining. MMH is also the most common cause of occupational fatigue, low back pain and lower back injuries.

Potential Manual Material Handling Hazards for Workers

Workers frequently cite the weight and bulkiness of objects that they lift as major contributing factors to their injuries. In 1999, for example, more than 4,20,000 workplace accidents resulted in back injuries. Bending, followed by twisting and turning, were the more commonly cited movements that caused back injuries. Other hazards include falling objects, improperly stacked materials and various types of equipment. You should make your employees aware of potential injuries that can occur when manually moving materials including the following:-

  • Strains and sprains from lifting loads improperly or from carrying loads that are either too large or too heavy;
  • Fractures and bruises caused by being struck by materials or by being caught in pinch points, and
  • Cuts and bruises caused by falling materials that have been improperly stored or by incorrectly cutting ties or other securing devices

Precautions to Be Taken During MMH:

When moving materials manually, workers should attach handles or holders to loads. In addition, workers should always wear appropriate personal protective equipment and use proper lifting techniques to prevent injury from oversize loads. Workers should seek help during the following:-

  • When a load is so bulky that employees cannot properly grasp or lift it;
  • When employees cannot see around or over a load or;
  • When employees cannot safely handle a load.

Using the following personal protective equipment prevents needless injuries when manually moving materials:-

  • Hand and forearm protection such as gloves for loads with sharp or rough edges
  • Eye protection
  • Steel toed safety shoes or boots
  • Metal fiber or plastic metatarsal guards to protect the in-step area from impact or compression

Stop & Think

Assess where, how long, how complicated can manual handling be.

Steps for Manual Lifting

  1. Keep feet apart to give a balanced and stable base for lifting
  2. Bend the knees so that the hands are as near to the waist as possible
  3. Keep the back straight, chin tucked-in, lean over the load if necessary [Shoulders in same direction as hips]
  4. Try to keep the arms within the boundary formed of the legs
  5. Carry out lifting smoothly without jerk
  6. Then adjust if precise positioning is necessary
  7. Give a command to gain group efforts in synchronized ways

Additional Safety Practices in Manual Handling

  • Restrict the load to 55 Kg (as per Indian Statute)
  • Trial lift before actual lifting
  • Ascertain, intended path of movement is clear

Manual material handling can result in significant treatment costs; even if those direct costs are only for injuries, there are other costs that apply to any business. 

What are the hazards in manual material handling?

Let’s Check What is Manual material handling hazards, Consider the example of a production worker, Pradeep. His job requires him to lift parts from the floor, bend down and twist his waist several times, and reach out to place the objects on a conveyor.

Now, based on his work, years can go unnoticed without him experiencing an injury, but there are chances that he is prone to ergonomic issues, and slip disc and other issues.

Musco-skeletal disorders and material shifting hazards are on the rise, that involves missed workdays, shoulder, and back injuries along with repetitive trauma and overexertion. This has a knock-on effect on efficiencies and productivity overall.

What helps is manual material handling techniques and ergonomic interventions when it comes to safe working scenarios.

Manual material handling is generally thought to be a non-value-added task, as no cycle of work gets completed directly through it. But what most people forget is that it is an essential and integral part of production, construction, and other business activities.

BE it every bend and every reach, when efficiency is something that is aimed for, the worker can be freed for various other tasks, and can further opt for something that is worthy.

The above mentioned procedure shall help the people to safely handle the material manually. Proper manual material handling training should always be considered to avoid manual material handling hazards and thereby safe work performance.

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10 thoughts on “Manual Material Handling – Tips for Safe Work Performance”

  1. I liked that you had mentioned that when handling something manually that it can be important to perform a trial before lifting. A friend of mine has been looking into buying a few materials and I’m not sure he has the best abilities when it comes to handling them and I’m worried he may hurt himself. He might have to try doing this, if not, he might have to look for someone else to do the material handling.

  2. Thanks for the tip to seek help with material handling when you can’t see around or over a load. There are some materials in my home that I think I will need material handling for, and I would like to know what the precautions are for the situation. Getting things such as eye protection and steel-toed safety shoes will be something I’ll look for when I get my stuff moved.

  3. I really like the information provided above. Material handling is no longer a complex task as the robotic solutions have been introduced in many organisations which is not only making the process easier but also ensuring the safety of the workers.

  4. Thank you for sharing deep knowledge on manual material handling safety practices. I have read this full article and found it very informative as you have provided an in-depth knowledge.

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