Manual Materials Handling (MMH) Solutions to Control MSD Hazards in Manufacturing and Warehousing Poster

Manual materials handling includes lifting, lowering, carrying, pushing, pulling and gripping materials.

  • These tasks are considered a major cause of back disorders in industry.
  • In manufacturing, back injuries account for ~50% of all exertion/bodily reaction injuries (WSIB, 2020).
Eliminate or control musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) hazards associated with manual materials handling tasks by following the hierarchy of controls:
  • Investigate implementing engineering controls, such as the solutions provided below, to change the way work is performed. These solutions can often improve worker productivity and product quality.
  • Implement necessary administrative controls, such as training.
Examples of solutions from Manual Materials Handling Poster for weight lifted and lowered, and weight carried. Solutions shown include Roller/transfer table, lift assist device, overhead crane/hoist, portable crane/hoist. For Weight carried, solutions include: conveyor systems, carts/dollies, hand trucks, and manual pallet truck.
MSD Hazard: Weight Lifted/Lowered/Carried – Solutions to control handling
  • Reduce the overall weight by splitting into smaller loads, if possible
  • Avoid manually handling uneven, unbalanced loads
  • Use both hands when handling objects/materials, if possible
  • Create handles to improve grip on objects/materials
Train and Engage Workers
  • Equipment Training: How to use equipment as intended to eliminate or control MSD hazards
  •  Work Methods Training: How to minimize exposure to MSD hazards (i.e., lifting and handling techniques, body positioning). Hazard specific training should be provided by qualified, knowledgeable person
  • Hazard Reporting: How to identify and report MSD hazards in the workplace
  • Control Hazards: Use a participative approach, which includes workers in the development and implementation of MSD hazard controls
Image form Manual materials handling poster. MSD Hazard: push/pull force, solutions to eliminate pushing and pulling. Solutions shown: automated pallet truck/pusher, automated walkie stacker, tugger, forklift.
MSD Hazard: Push/Pull Force – Solutions to control push/pull force
  • Implement regular equipment maintenance schedules
  • Evaluate flooring material and floor maintenance for mobile equipment on wheels
  • Use appropriate castor design for carts, depending on the application (i.e., diameter, material, swivel positioning, number of wheels, etc.)
  • Use both hands when manually pushing or pulling, if possible
Image from Manual materials handling poster for MSD hazard awkward back and shoulder postures to lift and lower. Solutions pictured include scissor lift table, scissor lift cart, self-levelling table, rotating lift table, self-levelling shelf cart, adjustable tilt cart, adjustable tilt stand, mobile pallet elevator.


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