Although materials handling equipment improves efficiency and worker safety, sometimes it can also be a source of injury for employees. It’s important that workers who use handling equipment every day are not only properly trained in its correct usage, but also possess a high level of attention to detail and a keen awareness of their surroundings. This article will go over some strategies and tips you can use to stay safe when working with materials handling equipment.
Ensure Workers Are Aware of Safety Policies
If you’re the owner of a company, a serious injury to one of your employees is not only emotionally taxing for you as an employer and detrimental to the productivity of your business, but could also lead to expensive and time-consuming litigation. Likewise, if you’re an employee of a company and you’re aware of a safety issue, failure to report a hazard could result in a colleague or yourself being unnecessarily put in harm’s way.
All materials handling equipment has guidelines for safe usage, transport and repair, and these guidelines should be reflected in your company’s safety policies and procedures. Employees of all levels should be aware of these policies and know what the protocol is during an emergency situation.
Materials handling equipment requires specific training and knowledge for safe and effective operation. Only employees who are trained in the proper usage of equipment should be the ones using said equipment. Employees who aren’t trained in proper usage are more likely to cause injury, damage to property and even death.
If you’re asked to use materials handling equipment you haven’t been properly trained to use, or if the equipment seems damaged, you should always refuse such requests, irrespective of who the request is coming from. Similarly, if you’re in a senior or management position, you should ensure that all materials handling equipment is only being used by employees who have the training and licensing for it.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
When operating materials handling equipment or working near it, it’s important that you stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Making sure you maintain the required distance away from heavy machinery such as forklifts and turn off any equipment that isn’t being used will help make your workplace safer for everyone.
Noise and vibration, which are common in factories, warehouses and plants, can also easily interrupt focus and reduce awareness of workers. These factors can be mitigated through the installation of quieter floor materials as well as equipping certain materials handling equipment with shock-dampening casters to reduce wheel noise.
It doesn’t matter how much training and awareness of surroundings an employee has; if they’re fatigued or under the influence of illicit substances, a serious accident is only a matter of time. Employee fatigue is a leading cause of accidents in the workplace, especially in cases where materials handling equipment is involved. If you’re an employee experiencing burnout from an unrealistic workload, speak with your manager or superior immediately about reducing your workload or delegating some of your responsibilities. Management should always take reports of employee fatigue seriously and put appropriate control measures in place that will help all workers avoid injury.