Handling cargo can be a pain in the neck—literally. Overexertion is the leading cause of workplace injury, such as muscle sprains and strains, damage to connective tissue and joints, and injury to the back, shoulders, arms, and neck.
Manual material handling, which includes lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing, holding, restraining, or carrying items, is a common activity in warehouses and loading docks. Always follow safe manual material handling practices to avoid injury. And remember, when you see a hazard, speak with your supervisor.
• Vehicle safety comes first
Attempting to unload unsecure cargo from a commercial vehicle can result in severe injury or even fatality. Be patient and ensure the vehicle being loaded or unloaded is stopped, secured, and properly stabilized before proceeding. When cargo shifts, it can be hazardous for dock workers and drivers. Take the time to ensure cargo is secure before transport to reduce the risk of injuries on both ends.
• Proper technique
To lift or move material safely, stand with your feet shoulder width apart . Follow safe lifting procedures, such as bending at the knees and hips and changing direction with the entire body; do not twist at the waist.
o When handling lids or covers from loads, avoid lifting them overhead.
o When mobile equipment cannot be used, use the proper handling equipment for the job, including pallet jacks, hand trucks, platform trucks, dollies, power tailgate. Use the equipment properly.
o Don’t carry anything so large you can’t grip it properly or it blocks your vision.
• Keep loading areas hazard-free
There is less chance of personal injury to workers if the work area is free of hazards. Poor housekeeping can cause slip, trip, or fall hazards, which are even more dangerous when you are moving material.
• Keep loading areas well-lit at all times
Remember site safety! Proper lighting is important where vehicles are loaded or unloaded. Visibility is crucial; don’t let hazards lurk in the shadows.
• Loading areas should be free of traffic
There should be no employees loitering or entering the area without authorization. Too many people in the area creates distraction; a moment of inattention can cause a lifetime of pain.