Shannahan Crane & Hoist

5 Best Practices for Heavy-Duty Material Handling Equipment

Have you stopped to think about the thousands of products you use every day? From the toothbrush you use in the morning to the bed, you sleep in at night. Everything you touch has been moved and transported by a complex system of material handling.

Behind the convenience of modern-day products lies a serious safety risk for the workers who move and handle these goods. That’s why it’s crucial to focus on safety in material handling operations.

In this article, we’ll discuss the best practices for safe material handling. We will cover proper training and adherence to safety protocols and regulations.

Best Practices

When it comes to material handling, safety should always be the top priority. To ensure the safe and efficient movement of materials, there are essential best practices to follow.

1. Proper Training for Material Handlers

Improper operations of material handling equipment can be dangerous. Adequate training can help prevent accidents, injuries, and equipment damage. 

Equipment – Specific Training

Material handlers should receive training on the specific type of equipment they will run. This training should cover the equipment’s features, controls, and limitations.

Safety Training

Safety training is crucial for material handlers to understand the risks associated with operating heavy machinery. Safety training should cover all areas. This includes:

  • Hazard identification
  • PPE requirements
  • Emergency response procedures.

Load Handling Training

Material handlers must receive load-handling training to understand how to lift, move, and stack materials. This training should cover load capacity limits, proper load placement, and safe handling techniques.

Benefits of Proper Training 

Material handlers who receive proper training can run equipment with more efficiency. This leads to increased productivity and decreased downtime.

It helps in preventing accidents and equipment damage. This can lead to cost savings.  There will be no need for repairs or replacement of equipment.

2. Regular Maintenance and Inspection 

Neglecting regular maintenance and inspection will lead to equipment failure, accidents, and injuries. The proper maintenance and inspection schedule will depend on the equipment, usage frequency, and environmental conditions.

There are various components of material handling equipment that need regular maintenance and inspection. These include:

Hydraulic System

The hydraulic system is critical to the operation of the equipment and machinery used in material handling. Regular maintenance of the hydraulic system ensures the safe and efficient operation of equipment. 

Electrical Systems

Electrical systems are essential to the operation of material handling equipment. Maintenance of electrical systems helps to find and prevent electrical hazards. They prevent short circuits, which can lead to equipment damage and cause fires.

Mechanical Components

Mechanical components of material handling equipment need regular maintenance for proper operation. Maintenance includes lubrication and inspection of moving parts.  The replacement of worn components, such as bearings and belts, is important.

Proper maintenance of mechanical components reduces the risk of equipment breakdown. It ensures safe operation.

Material Handling Systems

There are many components involved in this system. All components need proper maintenance for safe and efficient operation. They need regular inspections, repairs, and replacements of worn or damaged parts. This will help ensure the safe and reliable operation of material handling systems. These include:

  • Conveyors
  • Lifts 
  • Storage equipment
  • Trucks and trailers
  • Cranes 
  • Automated equipment like robots and other machines 

Benefits of Regular Maintenance and Inspection 

Regular maintenance and inspection of material handling equipment have several benefits, including:

  • Increased equipment life
  • Improved safety
  • Reduced downtime
  • Cost savings

3. Safe Loading and Unloading of Materials

Safe loading and unloading of materials are crucial to preventing injuries, property damage, and loss of inventory. It is essential to understand the risks associated with loading and unloading. Protocols must be put in place to prevent them.

Use Appropriate Equipment

Using the right equipment is critical in ensuring the safe loading and unloading of materials. Equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks, and dollies should be inspected and maintained to prevent accidents.

Train Workers

Workers should receive training on how to load and unload materials.  Ongoing training should also be provided to refresh workers’ knowledge and ensure that they follow safe procedures. The training should include:

  • The proper use of equipment
  • How to identify hazards
  • How to mitigate them

Secure the Load

It is essential to secure the load properly before transport to prevent it from shifting and falling during transit. The use of straps, chains, and other securing devices can ensure that the load remains stable.

Follow Loading and Unloading Procedures

Companies should have standard procedures for loading and unloading materials. Workers should follow these procedures strictly to prevent injuries and damage to products.

4. Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

The importance of PPE in material handling cannot be overstated. PPE protects workers from potential hazards. Choose the right PPE for each task and ensure that it has a proper fit to give maximum protection. They give protection from:

  • Falling objects
  • Cuts
  • Punctures
  • Bruises
  • Sprains

To ensure the effectiveness of PPE, workers should receive training on how to use and care for them. PPE  must receive regular inspections for signs of damage. Immediate replacement of damaged or worn-out PPE is a top priority.

PPE equipment includes:

  1. Hard hat to protect the head from falling objects or bumps.
  2. Safety glasses protect the eyes from flying debris, dust, or chemicals.
  3. Steel-toed boots protect the feet from heavy loads, falling objects, or sharp materials.
  4. Gloves protect the hands from cuts, punctures, or chemicals.
  5. Respirator to protect the lungs from dust, fumes, or harmful particles.
  6. Earplugs or earmuffs protect the ears from loud noises.
  7. Reflective clothing increases visibility and reduces the risk of accidents in low-light conditions.
  8. Safety harnesses to prevent falls from heights while working on elevated platforms or equipment.

5. Adherence to Safety Protocols and Regulations

Adhering to safety protocols and regulations is vital to ensuring a safe workplace for material handlers. Material handlers must stay informed about any updates. Adherence creates a safer work environment for everyone involved. They include;

  • Proper use of personal protective equipment
  • regular maintenance and inspection of equipment
  • safe loading and unloading practices 

Prioritizing Safety in Material Handling

Safety should be the top priority in material handling to prevent workplace accidents and injuries. By implementing best practices, businesses can cut the risk of incidents.

If you are a business located in St. Louis, Kansas City, MO area and their surrounding regions. Contact Shanahan Crane and Hoist to get safe material handling solutions.

It is crucial to focus on safety and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and our colleagues in the workplace. Don’t wait until an accident occurs, take action now for a safe working environment

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