One of the more common tasks in material handling is people lifting objects. Historically this manual material handling has been done without assistance from lifting or positioning equipment. Unfortunately, encouraging workers to “lift correctly” has provided little measurable benefit in reducing the use of improper lifting procedures.
Improper lifting can result in injuries, accidents and a loss in productivity. In fact, about 60 percent of all workmen’s compensation claims are associated with manual material handling, noted Jim Galante, chairman of MHI’s Ergonomic Assist Systems & Equipment (EASE) Council and director, business development, for MHI member Southworth Products Corp.
The number of claims is growing. What is causing this increase? Galante attributes it to several factors. The workforce is aging rapidly. At least one-third of the U.S. population is now considered obese. Also there is increased pressure on workers to increase efficiency and productivity so firms can be competitive worldwide. The reshoring trend means many of these jobs are returning to the U.S. where there is a shortage of trained workers. All these factors can contribute to improper lifting and injuries.
By Jean Feingold