How to Safely Handle and Lift Materials
By Universal Underwriters Group's Loss Prevention Department

Did you know that nearly half of all occupational injuries involve overexertion? Overexertion injuries include strains, sprains, pulled muscles and repetitive motion injuries. Soft tissue back injuries in particular are some of the most expensive and debilitating types of injuries that occur in the workplace today.

Automotive recycling industry employees are especially susceptible to these types of injuries as a result of the tasks they perform at work. A dismantler's day is spent bending over, crouching, sanding, pushing and pulling sheet metal. They lean over engine compartments, removing transmissions and engine parts daily. Other employees receive, move and stock transmissions, batteries, engines and other heavy parts regularly.

Material Handling Guidelines

Provide necessary material handling equipment, including transmission jacks, engine hoists, floor jacks, car pushers, pallet jacks and forklift trucks.

Train technicians on how to use shop equipment and conduct periodic performance checks to ensure that they are following company procedures.

Maintain equipment in safe operating condition.

Provide employee training on safe lifting and material handling.

Integrate the training into actual work situations to be most effective.

Keep floors clean, dry and free of oil.

Arrange tools, materials and equipment in close proximity to the technicians.

Provide conveyers to move parts up to second floor storage areas to eliminate lifting and carrying injuries.

Proper Lifting Techniques for Employee Training

Think before you lift! Assess what you are about to lift, and know where you are going to put it down.

Don't lift the object if it is too heavy. Get help.

Bend at the knees -- not your waist.

Firm up your stomach muscles.

Hug the object you are lifting; get it as close to your body as possible.

Lift with your leg muscles.

Keep in mind that while these lifting techniques are generally accepted guidelines, they can't overcome an individual employee's physical limitations.

Taking the time to educate your employees on material handling and safe lifting techniques will protect their health and physical well-being while reducing your loss exposure for costly workers compensation claims.


Gerry Cecil is the National Account Executive for the Special Account Services division of Universal Underwriters Group. For more information about how Universal Underwriters Group, Special Account Services can help your automotive recycling business needs call 800-840-8842, ext. 4845, visit www.uuic.com/specaccts/ara.asp or e-mail: uuic.specaccts@us.zurich.com.

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