A recent case study of the beverage industry by ergonomic consultant ErgoWeb studied injury risk factors for hand truck operators and prevention protocols. The study’s findings have obvious parallel implications for any business or industry that utilizes manual hand trucks.
The study was prompted by significant musculoskeletal stress injuries — particularly back injuries — reported by delivery workers. Similar injury rates are common in any environment where materials are constantly loaded and unloaded and where hand trucks are used to maneuver and transport materials. Affected businesses include delivery firms, moving companies, shipping operations, loading docks, groceries, retail and big box stores, warehouses, fulfillment centers, storage facilities, auto service centers, manufacturing plants, supply centers and many others.
The study found that maintenance and weight distribution issues resulted in the greatest number of operator injuries. The highest risk of potential injury was attributed to the following:
- Underinflated hand truck tires which placed undue stress on the musculoskeletal system.
- Unequal weight distribution of product cases increased back compressive force during lifting, increasing the risk of back injury.
- Improperly located product required twisting and lifting from un-optimal heights, increasing risk of back and shoulder injuries.
- Improperly balanced hand truck loads placed unnecessary musculoskeletal stress on workers.
While new loading patterns, better hand truck maintenance and improved operator training can help reduce injury risk, a far more effective solution is to replace manually operated hand trucks with ergonomically-designed electric carts and tugs. Powered carts allow a single operator to easily transport and maneuver maximum loads without risk of injury. Adjustable handholds, adjustable speed controls, adjustable beds, scissors lifts, powered platforms and other ergonomic features allow loads to be handled at optimal levels to significantly reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury.
If you want to reduce the risk of worker injury in your facility, talk to the experts at DJ Products about replacing your outdated hand trucks with ergonomically-designed powered carts and tugs.