Sunday, July 8, 2012

Material Handler and Order Picker Workplace Safety

Order picking and material handling is an important task in most manufacturing industries, and unfortunately, on-the-job injuries are not uncommon. 

Back injuries incurred while lifting are among the most common hazards for order pickers. But order pickers also face risks of other types of injuries, including trips and falls, shoulder, elbow or arm strains, injuries from falling objects, and injuries involving forklifts and other material-handling equipment.

Order pickers and other material handlers should observe the following precautions to avoid the most common types of on-the-job injuries:
  • Use material-handling aids, such as hand trucks and four-wheeled carts whenever possible to minimize heavy lifting and carrying. 
  • Keep materials and supplies stored at a level between the knees and shoulders. It is much more physically strenuous to lift things from below knee level or from above shoulder height. 
  • Slide, push, or pull materials and supplies whenever possible to avoid heavy lifting and carrying. 
  • Avoid twisting the body while carrying a heavy object. Ask a co-worker for help when carrying a heavy object. 
  • Use both hands when carrying loads and keep the load lose to the body. 
  • Rotate heaving lifting duties with lighter work to reduce the wear and tear on the body. 
Many of today’s warehouses also store supplies and materials on high shelving units, sometimes up to 30 feet in height. Employees often perform order picking using operator-up lift trucks, which increases the risk of serious injuries due to a fall. Order pickers working at heights should be equipped with and wear proper fall protection, which usually means a full-body harness with a fixed-length or retractable tether. The working platform should be elevate only when actual order picking is in progress, and employees should understand load capacities and stability requirements of the equipment to avoid tip-over accidents due to overloads or unstable loads. Employees should also watch out for overhead obstructions, and the operator should avoid turning while the platform is elevated with a load to avoid tip-over accidents.

Warehouse or manufacturing order picker or material handler injuries commonly include back injuries, musculoskeletal sprains and strains, and injuries due to falls.

In Minnesota, workers who sustain injuries in the course and scope of their employment may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, including medical expense benefits, wage loss benefits, vocational rehabilitation benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits.

If you've sustained an on-the-job injury in Minnesota, call Meuser & Associate at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email for a free, no-obligation workers' compensation case evaluation.


  1. Good that most of the precautions are you mentioned. Workers should know the proper handing and procedures for their jobs so that their health will not be in danger.

  2. Great tips on how to prevent accidents when pulling heavy orders. It is always a good idea to ask for help from a co-worker if a load is too heavy for an individual.


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