Manual and Mechanical Material Handling

What is material handling?

Manual material handling is the lifting, carrying or moving of materials, articles or things. Mechanical materials handling is the movement of materials, articles or things by such means as lift trucks, conveyors, or cranes and hoists.

One of the more frequent, higher risk outcomes of manual material handling is musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Results from the 2010 Ministry of Labour (MOL) blitz on MSDs found that the most common MSD orders issued were due to obstructions on floors interfering with safe movement of materials; unsafe material lifting, carrying and moving; unsafe storage of material and lack of examination of lifting devices.

MSDs have become an important workplace health and safety issue. They account for:

  • 44% of all lost-time claims
  • 41% of all lost-time injury claim costs
  • 913,000 days lost
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims totaling $112 million

Recent MOL blitzes related to mechanical equipment showed deficiencies like:

  • Improperly securing vehicles against accidental movement, tipping or falling
  • Unsafe loading and unloading procedures
  • Wheel chocking not used
  • Work surface hazards
  • Pinch point hazards

Materials handling operations are carried out in most workplaces either with the use of physical might only, or where heavier or awkward materials are handled using either motorized or non-motorized lifting equipment. Each handling task poses unique demands on the worker. However, workplaces can help workers to perform these tasks safely and easily by implementing and upholding proper policies and procedures.

Material HandlingWhat the law says

The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives the Government of Ontario broad powers to make regulations and sets out general principles and duties for the workplace parties. The regulations set out in detail how these duties are to be carried out. Many regulations have been made under the Act. For example, there are four separate safety regulations that apply to industrial establishments, construction sites, mines and health care facilities.

Employers, supervisors, owners and constructors, among others, have an obligation to know and comply with the regulations that apply to their workplaces. For the specifics on the regulations that cover your workplace, contact your health and safety provider.

How could having a material handling program help your business?

Hazards associated with material handling, either by manual or mechanical means, need to be assessed by considering the load, the task, the operator and the environment in which the task is performed. A disruption to any of these factors can create hazards that result in injuries and/or damage to equipment and facilities, which could ultimately result in significant increased cost and downtime for your business.

What you can do?

Evaluate the risk factors associated with material handling and implement control measures to eliminate or reduce the potential for injuries and/or damage to equipment and facilities.

The best control measure is to eliminate the need for workers to perform manual handling tasks.

Since this is not always possible, design manual handling tasks so that they are within the workers' capabilities. Considerations include the load itself, the design of the workstation and work practices. Providing mechanical handling devices or aids can often eliminate the task itself or ease the demands on the worker.

Consulting Services

Consulting Services Awareness Sessions

Consulting Services Awareness Sessions

Awareness sessions are presentations of up to 2 hours in length delivered at your workplace by WSPS consultants. They are designed to help meet your legal duty to provide information about workplace hazards to employees.


General Consulting Services

General Consulting Services

Integrating health and safety into your workplace is good business.  WSPS’ consultants employ a results-based approach to health, safety and environment, focused on building self-reliance,  and enabling your organization to implement, manage and continually improve your health and safety programs.

Ergonomics Consulting Services

Ergonomics Consulting Services

WSPS can assist you with implementing an ergonomics program. We also offer ergonomics training, consulting and assessments. Our ergonomic specialists work with you and your staff to identify the most effective ways to improve your employees' work environments and implement ergonomic solutions.

Warehouse Safety

Warehouse Safety

WSPS offers a variety of solutions to help managers, supervisors and other workplace parties get up-to-speed on what they need to know and do to achieve a safe, healthy and productive warehouse operation.

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS Safety Group

WSPS is the largest Safety Group provider and one of the longest running sponsors in the province. With our extensive experience and proven track record, by working with us and other member firms participating firms can achieve better results, and qualify for WSIB rebates.

Training

Warehouse Hazards From A to Z (1/2 day)

Warehouse Hazards From A to Z (1/2 day)

Warehouse Hazards From A-Z is designed to increase participants understanding of their role in preventing workplace injuries and overview of several of the most typical hazards within a warehouse environment.
View Details 
$149.00

Inspecting and Maintaining Steel Storage Racks (1 day)

Inspecting and Maintaining Steel Storage Racks (1 day)

REVISED! Reduce the risk of racking collapse. Learn how to properly inspect and maintain steel storage racks using the new CSA A344-17 User Guide for Steel Storage Racks.

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$539.00

Lift Trucks and Other Lifting Devices

Lift Trucks and Other Lifting Devices

Variety of offerings for operators and instructors including practical training and testing. Price: Varies per program.
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Call for pricing

Crane & Hoist Safety

Crane & Hoist Safety

Variety of offerings for operators and instructors including practical training and testing. Available for on-site delivery only. Price: Varies per program.
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Call for pricing

Health & Safety Awareness for Supervisors (1.5 Hours)

Health & Safety Awareness for Supervisors (1.5 Hours)

Get in compliance quickly. Price includes training for up to 25 people in your workplace.

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$395.00

Health & Safety Awareness for Workers (1 Hour)

Health & Safety Awareness for Workers (1 Hour)

Get in compliance quickly. Price includes training for up to 25 people in your workplace.

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$395.00

Health & Safety Awareness for Workers (2 Hours)

Health & Safety Awareness for Workers (2 Hours)

Training Tailored to Your Workplace. Price includes training for up to 15 people in your workplace.

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$395.00

Safe Lifting (1/2 day )

Safe Lifting (1/2 day )

Safe Lifting is a half-day, practical course designed to provide training on performing proper lifting techniques. Supervisors and other appropriate personnel are additionally equipped to deliver 10 min Safe Lifting safety talks to their employees.
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Call for pricing

E-Courses

Manual Materials Handling (English) (1 hour)

Manual Materials Handling (English) (1 hour)

Learn how to prevent manual material handling (MMH) injuries at your workplace by developing the skills needed to identify and control risk factors associated with MMH work.
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$49.00

Manual Materials Handling (French) (1 hour)

Manual Materials Handling (French) (1 hour)

Learn how to prevent manual material handling (MMH) injuries at your workplace by developing the skills needed to identify and control risk factors associated with MMH work.
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$49.00

Webinars

Pallet Racking: Know the Common Hazards Webinar

Pallet Racking: Know the Common Hazards Webinar

This is a pre-recorded information session delivered via webinar.
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$0.00

MOL Material Handling Blitz - Be Ready

MOL Material Handling Blitz - Be Ready

Handling materials is an integral part of most workplace activity, only the quantum of materials moved and the method of movement varies.
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$0.00

Reference Products

Inspecting Physical Conditions, Guidelines for Setting Standards (8th Edition)

Inspecting Physical Conditions, Guidelines for Setting Standards (8th Edition)

A comprehensive, print-based resource that identifies applicable laws and standards and provides detailed guidelines relating to over 30 workplace hazards and 20 controls.
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$119.00

Self-paced Training

SAFE-Lift on DVD

SAFE-Lift on DVD

Comply with the Ministry of Labour guidelines for lift truck operator and pedestrian safety.
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$499.00

SAFE-Lift Counterbalance Rider Additional Print Package

SAFE-Lift Counterbalance Rider Additional Print Package

Additional Print Package for SAFE-Lift on DVD.
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$38.75

SAFE-Lift Narrow-Aisle Additional Print Package

SAFE-Lift Narrow-Aisle Additional Print Package

Additional print package for SAFE-Lift on DVD.
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$38.75

SAFE-Lift Pallet Truck-Low Lift Additional Print Package

SAFE-Lift Pallet Truck-Low Lift Additional Print Package

Additional print package for SAFE-Lift on DVD.
View Details 
$38.75

Downloads

A User's Guide to Conveyor Belt Safety

A User's Guide to Conveyor Belt Safety

This guide suggests possible preventative measures so that work on or near conveyors can be performed safely. Developed by IRSST/CSST in collaboration with stakeholders.

1900 KB PDF
IRS Primer

IRS Primer

The internal responsibility system (IRS) is part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Everyone in the workplace has a shared responsibility. This primer will help you understand your role in this process.
682 KB pdf
Self-Assessment Form - Cranes and Lifting Devices

Self-Assessment Form - Cranes and Lifting Devices

This self-assessment form was developed as a result of a study on occupational health and safety for small companies in the metal processing industry. Researchers determined that companies with limited resources and time most need these simple tools for rapid intervention on real issues. 

The. zip file you will download contains two files; a user's guide and the self-assessment form.
308 KB pdf
Self-Assessment Form - Lift Truck

Self-Assessment Form - Lift Truck

This self-assessment form was developed as a result of a study on occupational health and safety for small companies in the metal processing industry. Researchers determined that companies with limited resources and time most need these simple tools for rapid intervention on real issues. 

The. zip file you will download contains two files; a user's guide and the self-assessment form.
347 KB pdf
Self-Assessment Form - Non-Motorized Material Handling Equipment

Self-Assessment Form - Non-Motorized Material Handling Equipment

This self-assessment form was developed as a result of a study on occupational health and safety for small companies in the metal processing industry. Researchers determined that companies with limited resources and time most need these simple tools for rapid intervention on real issues. 

The. zip file you will download contains two files; a user's guide and the self-assessment form.
326 KB pdf
Working on a Conveyor Belt

Working on a Conveyor Belt

This guideline outlines the hazards associated with working with or near conveyor belts.  It also offers safe work practices to help reduce or eliminate the risk of injury.
234 KB pdf
Loading Docks and Warehouses

Loading Docks and Warehouses

There are many hazards associated with loading docks.  This guideline outlines these hazards and offers some safe work guidelines to eliminate or minimalize the risk.
278 KB pdf
Manual Materials Handling

Manual Materials Handling

Most workplaces have a manual materials handling operation.  Each handling task poses unique demands on the worker.  These tasks can be performed safely and easily by implementing and upholding proper policies and procedures.
368 KB pdf
Stocking

Stocking

There are many hazards related to stocking.  This download will help you identify potential hazards and what to do to minimize or eliminate exposure to them.
261 KB pdf
Order Picking

Order Picking

Order picking can result in a variety of muscle and joint injuries and pains.  Other injuries, and even death, can result from falls and collisions with powered equipment.  Some order pickers may be exposed to hazardous chemicals.

257 KB pdf
Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment

In general, there are many types of jobs or tasks that require PPE to protect workers from harm.  Always wear the appropriate PPE for the hazards that may be encountered in the job or that is required by your employer, or by legislation.
428 KB 

Articles

Material handling blitz #1: inspectors' MSD prevention priorities

Material handling blitz #1: inspectors' MSD prevention priorities

During the Ministry of Labour's material handling blitz, running from September 14 to October 23, inspectors are asking employers about manual handling procedures, related worker training, and workplace supervision. "These are fundamental parts of a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention program," says WSPS ergonomist Sandra Patterson.

Sep 04, 2015
Material handling blitz #2: 6 steps to implement a traffic management plan

Material handling blitz #2: 6 steps to implement a traffic management plan

Traffic management plans are a priority for Ministry of Labour inspectors visiting workplaces during the current material handling blitz, which runs from September 14 to October 23. These plans are also good for business: they help eliminate or control the risk of collisions, allowing you to move goods within your facility safely and efficiently. "It's all part of a managed health and safety system," says WSPS technical consultant Chuck Leon.

Sep 04, 2015
September material handling blitz: conduct your own inspection now

September material handling blitz: conduct your own inspection now

On September 14, the Ministry of Labour will begin a 6-week material handling inspection blitz. Get ahead of the ministry by conducting your own blitz now, advises WSPS consultant Sandy Ash. "Turn this into an opportunity by proactively identifying gaps in your prevention program and implementing an action plan. It's all very positive if it's an impetus for improvement."

Aug 06, 2015
How eBay Enterprise stays LTI-free even during construction

How eBay Enterprise stays LTI-free even during construction

Employees at e-Bay Enterprise's Mississauga facility have checked off almost 1900 days with no lost-time injuries despite explosive business growth and a construction program that tripled the size of the original site, all while the operation was still running. How did they do it? Attendees of WSPS' recent Partners in Prevention Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show heard the story firsthand from Shawn Heroux, the facility's manager of safety and security.

Jun 08, 2015
Material handling blitz on now: use past results to manage your hazards

Material handling blitz on now: use past results to manage your hazards

Starting September 15, Ministry of Labour inspectors are conducting the third in a series of material handling blitzes. This follows a warehousing blitz six months ago and a racking and storage blitz three years ago. "This tells me that the ministry very clearly understands the province's injury statistics and has found evidence during previous blitzes to warrant more inspections," says WSPS consultant Sandy Ash.

Sep 05, 2014
Sept-Oct material handling blitz: ask yourself these questions ahead of the MOL inspectors

Sept-Oct material handling blitz: ask yourself these questions ahead of the MOL inspectors

From September 15 to October 26, Ministry of Labour inspectors will target workplaces for material handling hazards and infractions. Expect the ministry to release details in early September. In the meantime, WSPS warehouse/material handling specialist Chuck Leon offers a head start on questions inspectors may ask.

Jul 04, 2014
Myth buster: clearing up misconceptions about lift devices

Myth buster: clearing up misconceptions about lift devices

Nothing makes Chuck Leon's blood boil faster than hearing someone spout a lift truck myth or misconception. "And there are plenty of them," says Leon. He's a WSPS warehouse/material handling specialist with years of experience as an operator and a consultant, and knows firsthand that misinformation is dangerous. It can put people at risk and cause significant property damage.

Jun 05, 2014
Ministry of Labour to conduct warehouse safety blitz in February. Will you be ready?

Ministry of Labour to conduct warehouse safety blitz in February. Will you be ready?

In February 2014 - just over a month from now - Ontario's Ministry of Labour will be inspecting warehouse facilities across Ontario. Workplace Safety & Prevention Services consultant Chuck Leon has advice for workplaces on how to get ready now.

Dec 04, 2013
Ministry of Labour Racking & Storage Blitz Details

Ministry of Labour Racking & Storage Blitz Details

The MOL Racking & Storage blitz will take place from November 1, 2011.  This article provides details to help you get prepared.
Oct 17, 2011