Guide to safe material handling

Material handling on construction sites involves many hazardous elements, especially when working with extremely heavy materials, such as timber, or with equipment and machinery, including cranes and forklifts. Even the most experienced professionals are at constant risk of being injured at work.

You could write a whole book on safety measures in the
material handling industry
. This article presents the best health and safety tips when handling materials. We will address the following themes:

Hazards in the material handling industry

Safety advice for the use of material handling machinery

Safety advice for material handling at height


What hazards exist in the material handling industry?

The most common types of hazards in the material handling industry include, but are not limited to

Back injuries, strains and sprains from lifting heavy and awkward objects.

Falling objects as a result of improperly stacked material or equipment.

Breakage and/or impact damage from collision with objects.

Fractures and/or impact injuries after being caught between objects or inside “pinch points”.

Incorrect cutting of safety equipment and connections holding the heavy objects together.


How do you ensure the safety of workers when working with heavy material handling machinery?

Those workers who are trained to operate mechanical equipment for moving, lifting and storing materials can do their work much more efficiently. However, the use of these machines also increases the risk of occupational injuries. As a result, workers must take specific measures to prevent injuries when operating the equipment.

This includes the worker avoiding overloading the equipment when mechanically moving materials by selecting the correct equipment for use based on the weight, size and shape of the material. All material handling equipment has specific characteristics that determine the maximum weight they can safely handle and the conditions they can handle the weight in. Each machine must be clearly marked with its maximum capacity.

Staff should also follow the following practices:

  • Minimize the risk of the machine tipping over or material falling by centering the weight as close to the center of the machine as possible.
  • Under no circumstances counterbalance an overloaded forklift truck.
  • Before moving equipment, make sure the load is loaded as low as possible.
  • Read and follow the user manuals to the letter.


Material loading and handling at height

Personnel operating material handling equipment at heights should always be educated and trained in height safety, how to use set-up equipment and how to comply with other safety directives.

When it comes to material handling at heights to prevent slipping, tripping or falling, there is a three-step process that should always be followed: Plan, ProvideTrain.

What exactly does this process entail?

Plan for everything that can go wrong in the working environment and how to prevent these disasters from happening in the first place. Review every centimeter of the work or construction site and identify the areas that could potentially pose a threat to you, your employees or passing civilians. If you identify a risk area, you should quickly inform your work team and ensure that everyone working in the area is aware of these risks.

Provide all your employees with the necessary safety equipment to create a safe working environment. Assist each worker with suitable fall protection equipment such as lift chairs and rigging equipment.

Train your workers to identify hazards and to use safety equipment. Everyone in the work area should have the necessary knowledge to ensure the safety of themselves and others. Help employees obtain fall safety certificates, crane training and any other safety training that will help employees.

If you are responsible for the construction project, it is your duty to make sure that all staff in the area can feel safe and secure in their daily work.


Ensure high safety on the construction site with BGFIX

Safety should always be your first priority. Explore our material handling safety range to keep you, your workers and everyone else around the construction project safe:

- Skrevet af Niels Webb



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