Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling

April 23, 2007

Manual material handling (MMH) work contributes to a large percentage of the more than half a million cases of musculoskeletal disorders reported annually in the United States. Musculoskeletal disorders often involve strains and sprains to the lower back, shoulders, and upper limbs. They can result in protracted pain, disability, medical treatment, and financial stress for those afflicted with them, and employers often find themselves paying the bill, either directly or through workers’ compensation insurance, while at the same time coping with the loss of the full capacity of their workers.

It offers suggestions to improve the handling of rectangular, square, and cylindrical containers, sacks, and bags.



Eliminating lifting from the floor and using simple transport devices like carts or dollies

Using lift-assist devices like scissors lift tables or load levelers

Using more sophisticated equipment like powered stackers, hoists, cranes, or vacuum assist devices

Guiding your choice of equipment by analyzing and redesigning work stations and workflow



OSHA Cites Four Contractors Following Fatal Construction Accident in Miami


OSHA has proposed penalties of $59,000 against four contractors—Starsouth Stucco Systems, Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., Safety Guys Inc., and M.C. Velar Construction—for multiple safety violations at a construction site in Miami, Fla.


The safety violations led to a fatality that occurred on Nov. 1, 2006, when a plasterer working on one of the building's balconies fell 210 feet.


"Falls are a major cause of preventable workplace deaths in the United States, and the department will not tolerate employers who ignore safety standards," said Darlene Fossum, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "These companies placed the lives of employees at risk by not providing proper fall protection equipment and training."


OSHA issued 16 serious citations against the companies for allowing employees to work on unprotected balconies, allowing employees to use defective and inadequate safety equipment, not inspecting defective safety devices or removing them, having an inadequate safety program, and not providing employees with adequate safety training.


The employee who died worked for Starsouth Stucco Systems. Safety Guys Inc. supplied the fall protection systems used at the site. M.C. Velar Construction provided concrete forming used at the site. Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. was the general contractor responsible for all site activities.


The companies have 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office.



OSHA Settles Building and Construction Trades Department Challenge to Hexavalent Chromium Standard


OSHA signed an agreement April 6, 2007, with the Building Construction Trades Department (BCTD), AFL-CIO, Laborers’ International Union of North America, and International Brotherhood of Teamsters, to settle their challenge to OSHA’s hexavalent chromium standard (BCTD, et al., v. OSHA, Case No. 06-2433 (3d Cir.)).


As a result of the settlement, OSHA will issue a new document that provides specific enforcement procedures for compliance officers to follow at all construction sites where employees are working with portland cement. The document, “Portland Cement Inspection Procedures”, will explain how existing OSHA standards and requirements (air contaminants, personal protective equipment, sanitation, hazard communication, and recordkeeping) apply to operations involving portland cement and collects all the applicable provisions in a single inspection checklist.


Portland Cement Inspection Procedures also will be published as Appendix C-1 to the OSHA compliance directive on the Chromium (VI) standards (“Cr(VI) directive”) to be issued to regional administrators later in 2007. While the Cr(VI) directive has not yet been finalized, OSHA is forwarding the Portland Cement Inspection Procedures to regional administrators and state designees in advance for immediate action. In a memo to regional administrators, OSHA is instructing compliance inspectors to review and implement the new Portland Cement Inspection Procedures.


Although the settlement agreement does not apply in the 22 states and territories with OSHA-approved state occupational safety and health plans in the private sector, OSHA strongly encourages these states to implement the new Portland Cement Inspection Procedures.



OSHA Launches Youth Job Safety Campaign


Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. and key construction industry stakeholders launched OSHA's national 2007 Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign to help keep teenagers safe and healthy on the job.


"OSHA has a strong and long-standing relationship with the construction community," said Foulke. "Through this campaign, we hope to instill a culture of safety and health at a young age in America's next generation of employees. We look forward to working with this country's construction safety and health leaders to further our goal of ensuring teenagers learn lifelong habits that allow them to go home safe and healthy at the end of the day."


Through the campaign, OSHA, in collaboration with the agency's 13 national and numerous regional construction industry-related alliances, will provide information on working safely and avoiding construction hazards.


A kick-off event at the Thomas Edison High School of Technology in Silver Spring, Md., featured speakers Ronald DeJuliis, Maryland commissioner of labor and industry, and Tim Lawrence, executive director of SkillsUSA, as well as support from the National Parent Teacher Association; the National Association of Home Builders; Associated Builders and Contractors; Associated General Contractors of America; the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers; the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades; the Center to Protect Workers Rights; the Building and Construction Trades Department-AFL/CIO; the Construction Safety Council; the Laborers International Union of North America; and the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration.


During the event, Thomas Edison students demonstrated safe and healthful work practices, such as the proper use of hearing protection and other personal protective equipment, the safe use of hand tools, and tips to avoid falls.

Now in the second of a five-year campaign, OSHA is striving to reduce work-related injuries among teenagers by teaching them on-the-job safety and how to integrate safety principles into their work from the beginning. The campaign highlights the Department of Labor's YouthRules! Initiative, which is designed to bring teenagers, parents, educators, employers, government, unions, and advocacy groups together to ensure that youth have safe and rewarding work experiences.


OSHA Concludes Regulatory Flexibility Act Review for Excavations Standard


OSHA is making available the “look-back” study for OSHA’s construction standard on excavations. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 directs OSHA to review and evaluate the effectiveness of its standards and the impact those standards have had on lowering injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the workplace. The agency undertook the review of the standard to determine whether the rule should be continued without change or should be amended or revoked. OSHA concluded that the Excavations Standard should remain in effect, but it will issue some improved guidance and training materials to help employers keep their employees safe. 



North American Occupational Safety and Health Week Slated for May 6–12


OSHA and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) will kick off a week dedicated to transportation safety on May 7 in Washington, D.C. North American Occupational Safety and Health () Week is a joint venture with the United States, Canada, and Mexico to raise awareness of occupational safety, health, and environmental programs among employers, employees, and the public. Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., will launch the event at 10 a.m. at the U.S. Department of Labor. Winners of the ASSE kids’ NAOSH “Safety-on-the-Job” poster contest and their families will be on hand for the festivities.



Child Labor Rules to Be Tightened


The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed to update the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations governing the employment of teenage workers, a measure that will improve protections for the nation's young workforce.


"The proposal contains the most ambitious and far-reaching revisions to the child labor regulations in the last 30 years," said Wage and Hour Division Administrator Paul DeCamp. "It will safeguard the health and education of millions of working teens, while at the same time allowing them to enjoy the benefits of a phased introduction to the workplace."


Key proposals include new bans on particularly hazardous activities, such as working at poultry slaughtering plants, riding on forklifts as passengers, fighting forest fires, and loading and operating non-paper products balers and compacters. The proposal also would prohibit 14- and 15-year-olds from employment in youth peddling activities, also referred to as door-to-door sales.


In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the department is requesting comments on proposed changes to seven non-agricultural hazardous occupation orders (HOs) and on suggested revisions to the rules for 14- and 15-year-olds. In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), the department seeks information to update certain HOs for which there was not sufficient information to propose new rules.


This proposal is the second in a series of updates to the child labor regulations and stems from the department’s enforcement experience, a statutory change, and a 2002 National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) review of the child labor HOs. In December 2004, the department issued final regulations that, among other modifications, expanded protections for youth working in roofing and restaurant cooking.


Under the FLSA, 14- and 15-year-olds may work only in occupations explicitly authorized by the Secretary of Labor by regulation and only under conditions that do not interfere with their schooling or health and well-being. Sixteen and 17-year-olds, on the other hand, may work in any occupations except those that the secretary has found to be "particularly hazardous" or "detrimental to their health or well-being."


The public is encouraged to submit electronic comments on the NPRM and ANPRM through the federal eRulemaking Portal at [RIN docket numbers (1215-AB57) and (1215-AB44)]. Comments must be submitted by July 16, 2007.



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