Insights on Material Handling in the Workplace

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Material handling is the movement, protection, storage, and control of materials and products throughout manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption, and disposal. As a process, material handling incorporates a wide range of manual, semi-automated, and automated equipment and systems that support logistics and make the supply chain work.

As your partner for working safer and smarter to be more profitable, we want to talk about hazards involving material handling and what can be done to prevent mishaps involving this part of our working world. Material handling tasks cover everything from merely lifting a box by hand to multi-ton cranes that are hoisting enormous building materials at construction sites. 

Material Handling Equipment Includes:

  • Tools
  • Carts
  • Large Vehicles
  • Conveyors

  • Hoisting Equipment
  • Racks
  • Storage
  • Ergonomics

The first thing to discuss is the importance of recognizing when material handling tasks are required. Believe it or not, many workers are involved in material handling and do not even realize it. For example, a worker may quickly grab materials and try moving them without realizing the need to consider injury risks. This movement can set the stage for mishaps, which is why we must factor in the role of material handling as we accomplish our work. Here is another example: I recently worked on a project that required moving thirty 60-pound bags of concrete mix to the backyard of a house. We had to move the bags from the driveway to the area where the concrete was to be laid, which required some pre-project planning.

The next idea is to recognize the need for planning on how material handling is to be accomplished. In this example, my immediate thought was to do it the “old-fashioned way,” making multiple trips and seeing if I could carry more than one bag at a time. This approach to yardwork is a sure way to get a lifting injury! However, a little planning reveals that using a wheelbarrow would be quicker and easier on the back.  

As another example, consider the material handling hazards involved with work such as installing drywall or completing overhead tasks for HVAC workers. Technology is helping to prevent related hazards from occurring through resources like special carts or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), ranging from exoskeleton devices to gloves and goggles.

Did you know TBG’s Safety Service Association has acquired technology such as stair-climbing carts and special exoskeleton devices for use in training? Contact your TBG Safety Services Specialist to learn more!

Lastly, it is important to realize that training is vital to successful material handling operations. The latest devices are no good if we do not know how to use them properly. It is easy to assume we know how to operate special carts or cranes just by watching others, but there is often more going on than meets the eye. Avoid complacency!

When designing a material handling system, it is important to refer to best practices to ensure that all the equipment and processes including manual, semi-automated, and automated in a facility work together as a unified system. 

Consequently, there is more that can be said about material handling in the workplace. However, hopefully, this information motivates you to take a look at your operations involving material handling, resulting in increased safety and a better understanding of frequently occurring events.

For assistance on this and other safety topics, check out these resources outside of TBG from the TBG Safety Service Association:

September is National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month! This is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen in the workplace or other spaces. So, make a plan and ensure you’re prepared before disaster strikes.

Upcoming Training Opportunities
Please reach out to your TBG Safety Representative to schedule your safety training needs. You can also look at the TBG Safety Training Calendar for upcoming training opportunities.


As your partner for working safer and smarter to be more profitable, we at the TBG Safety Service Association are committed to bringing your organization more resources that benefit everyone.

Thanks to the new TBG Safety Service Association, we are now offering each TBG member two free seats per year and lower member pricing for our OSHA-10 training!

Members are jointly and severally liable for their proportionate share of obligations for the group and will be assessed on an individual and proportionate share basis for any deficit created by the group. Dividends are not guaranteed. 

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