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6 Myths and Misconceptions about Safe Material Handling Practices

Part of our mission at Electro Kinetic Technologies is to help educate businesses and their employees on safer ways to get the job done. To do that, our team put together a list of common misconceptions about material handling practices and started myth-busting.

1.     “But it’s not that much weight.”

Unfortunately, injuries still happen at low weights. What may seem heavy to one employee could feel completely different to another. The key to spotting a potential musculoskeletal injury risk in material handling practices is discerning whether the task is repetitive, or awkward in nature, no matter how seemingly simple.

2.       “But the only hard part is getting the cart started.”

In reality, that’s when an injury is most likely to happen. While inertia helps an employee keep a moving cart rolling, it also strongly resists their efforts to get a motionless cart started. All it takes to cause a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is one stressful or awkward movement during material transport.

3.      “But we have two people assigned to move it”

What happens when the cart needs to be moved and only one of the two people is there? When faced with this common scenario, employees still frequently try to get the job done with one person short. Even in cases where an extra set of hands is available, you might end up with two people injured instead of just one because using multiple workers doesn’t adequately reduce or eliminate the push/pull forces that cause MSDs. According to OSHA, the two-employee method isn’t an evidence-based safe material handling practice.

4.     “But we can’t afford…”

If you’re struggling to justify the expense of a safety upgrade, how will your operation be able to afford the employee turnover, work stoppage, poor efficiency, OSHA fines, insurance premiums, and medical costs that result from failing to address the problem? Luckily, motorized solutions and safer material handling practices pay for themselves in reduced insurance premiums and increased productivity relatively quickly, making businesses more profitable over time.

5.     “But those are only minor injuries and only happen once in a while.”

“Minor injuries” like a wrist or elbow sprain may seem relatively insignificant, and yet they still cause employee suffering and cost individual businesses tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs. They can also prevent an employee from continuing to safely work, resulting in loss of talent and career opportunities.

6.     “But we only move that load a few times a week.”

Though many MSDs develop from repeated strain over time, others can also result from a single acute incident. As a matter of fact, the loaded cart an employee is least accustomed to moving is often the one most likely to cause injury.

It’s time to set aside the myths and address the issues. For more information on safe material handling practices, contact one of our engineers here.

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