I recently read an article discussing material handled by workers, which made them seriously ill. When we discuss Material Handling, what are we actually speaking about? Here are a couple of definitions. Material handling is the movement, protection, storage and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption and disposal. Materials handling is the short distance movement of goods or materials within a storage area, involving loading, unloading, palletizing, de-palletizing, etc. For the purpose of this post, let’s discuss how “we” become involved in material handling and how “we” can be protected and protect ourselves while working with and/or around materials by looking at the following 11 basic rules for handling materials.
- Follow all established procedures and perform job duties as you have been trained.
- Be cautious and plan ahead. Think about what could go wrong paying close attention to what you are doing while you work and where your body position is in order to prevent being caught between, in or under materials.
- Always use the required personal protective equipment (PPE) and inspect it carefully before each use to make sure it is safe to use. Replace worn out or damaged PPE because it will not provide you adequate protection.
- Make sure all containers are properly labeled and that the material is contained in an appropriate container. Do not use any material not contained or labeled properly. Report any damaged containers or illegible labels to your supervisor right away.
- When working with chemicals, read labels and the safety data sheet before use. Make sure you understand the chemical’s hazards and precautions. If you do not understand or do not have means for precautions, STOP and ask for assistance.
- Use all materials solely for their intended purpose. Do not use solvents to clean your hands, or gasoline to wipe down equipment.
- Never eat or drink while handling any materials, and if your hands are contaminated, do not handle contact lenses.
- Read the labels to identify properties and the hazards of products and materials.
- Store all materials properly, separate incompatibles, and store in ventilated, dry, cool areas.
- Keep you and your work area clean.
- Learn about emergency procedures and equipment. Understanding emergency procedures means knowing evacuation procedures, emergency-reporting procedures, and procedures for dealing with fires, spills, drops, etc. It also means knowing what to do in a medical emergency if a co-worker is injured or overcome by materials.
Remember that material handling can be done safely only when you protect yourself and those working around you.
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