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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report, employers reported 3 million workplace nonfatal injuries and illnesses during 2013.
Due to stringent OSHA regulations, workplace safety inspections, and liability concerns, employee safety in industrial applications has become a primary concern for many companies. Statistics demonstrate that warehouse workers are particularly susceptible to strains and injuries. As a result, companies are working hard to promote more ergonomically-friendly workplaces for employees.
These progressive companies are looking at new processes, new technology, and equipment to help reduce the kind of long-term ergonomic issues that are both dangerous and costly.
Warehouse equipment such as lift hand trucks can greatly reduce safety concerns while driving increased efficiency and worker productivity. Here’s a look at how:
1) Weight Capacity
Lift hand trucks are used for stacking and transporting goods that are less than a pallet load. With the capacity to handle loads weighing up to 350 lbs and measuring 36”, they make getting heavy loads from floor level to workbenches, shelves, rack, or truck bed height easy.
In the world of material handling, heavy lifting safety is especially critical. Lift hand trucks shouldn't replace safety guidelines for heavy lifting; they should serve to enforce some of the ergonomic practices designed to make tasks safer for workers. Since workers who are younger and stronger (and typically in these types of jobs) tend to disregard safe lifting processes, lift-enabled hand trucks can help them work smarter.
In addition to weight capacity, lift hand trucks also save on the need for a forklift by allowing pallets to be broken at the shipping area, then transported by hand. Workers don’t need to send a forklift to different areas where it can elevate a pallet for carton or piece putaway. Lift hand trucks can also fit into areas forklifts can’t, like office areas, shelving aisles, and other cramped confines. This maneuverability makes them suitable for a number of different warehouse tasks, including shipping & receiving and anywhere else with limited work space.
While traditional stackers can accommodate heavy loads, they can’t travel on uneven floors, in and out of trucks, up and down inclines, etc., all of which can hamper productivity. Lift hand trucks can go places powered stackers cannot, including tight areas such as elevators or narrow hallways.
3) Adjustable Height Platform
With the BLS estimating that musculoskeletal disorders account for roughly a third of all worker injuries and illnesses, finding ways to reduce worker strain and fatigue is crucial. An EHS Today article on workplace ergonomics states “Some things that can be done to reduce the risk factors related to injuries from receiving and shipping tasks include: 1) Using proper lifting techniques, and 2) Using mechanical assist when possible.”
Built with an adjustable height platform, lift hand trucks allow workers to lift and lower goods to the precise height needed to load and unload. This adjustable platform eliminates the need for workers to bend and lift, thus making the environment safer and more ergonomically friendly.
4) Simplicity & Efficiency
One of the best things about lift hand trucks is their simplicity. Workers can be up and running with little or no training, in no time, so they can spend more time loading and unloading materials in a way that helps minimize strains and injuries.
How do they work? A simple button control fob is tethered to the main mast console and rests in a special holder until taken out for remote use at one side or the other of the lift. The controller manipulates the height of the platform smoothly and precisely, making work quicker and easier. Once goods have been loaded, the worker easily tips the entire load back somewhat and transports much like using a traditional hand truck. Once ready to unload, the controller can adjust height of platform and easily slide goods off onto new surface.
“The primary injuries occurring in a warehouse stem from lifting, straining, and turning,” as noted by Joel Anderson, president and CEO of the International Warehouse Logistics Association. With so much at stake (employee safety, lost productivity, higher insurance bills, government fines, etc.), forward-thinking companies have invested in warehouse equipment such as lift hand trucks to promote workplace safety and drive warehouse efficiency.
Hand lift trucks are costlier than simple hand trucks, but companies shouldn’t treat them that way. They provide an ergonomic boost and a productivity shot in the arm for many types of loads and operations.
How is your organization making workplace safety a priority?