Safety Bulletin: Material Handling Incidents and Lessons Learned

A rash of recent incidents within our workplace has highlighted the importance of awareness in preventing incidents and injuries while moving materials. We want to remind everyone of the significance of always being mindful of our surroundings and potential hazards while performing material handling tasks. By staying vigilant and attentive, we can minimize the risk of incidents and ensure a safer work environment for everyone.

  1. Overloaded Carrying of Wire Spools: An employee experienced back tension while carrying two spools of #12 THHN wire from the connex. The combined weight of the spools, approximately 40lbs, did not exceed safe handling limits (50/100 Rule), but lead to discomfort and a sprained back.
  2. Jack High-Centered on Curb: An employee high-centered a battery-operated jack on a curb, causing mobility issues and resulting in a tear in his bicep tendon. This incident highlights the dangers of improper equipment handling and the physical strain it can impose.
  3. Manual Movement of a Gang Box: Despite receiving help from coworkers, an employee sustained a back injury while manually moving an empty gang box. This situation underscores the risks associated with manual handling, even when the load appears manageable.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Recognize and Respect Weight Limits: It’s crucial to understand and respect the weight limits for manual handling tasks. Even items that seem light, like spools of wire, can lead to injury when combined. Use mechanical aids or seek assistance when dealing with heavy or awkward loads.
  2. Proper Equipment Use: When using battery-operated jacks or similar equipment, ensure the path is clear and free from obstacles like curbs. Proper planning and situational awareness can prevent accidents and injuries.
  3. Teamwork and Technique: When moving large or heavy items, always use proper lifting techniques and team coordination. Even with help, it’s important to assess the load and consider mechanical assistance to minimize strain.

Preventative Measures:

  • Conduct Pre-Task Assessments: Evaluate the task and environment before starting. Identify potential hazards and plan accordingly.
  • Use Mechanical Aids: Utilize carts, dollies, or other mechanical aids to reduce manual handling.
  • Training and Awareness: Ensure all employees are trained in proper lifting techniques and the safe use of equipment.
  • Communicate: Maintain open communication about the task at hand, especially when teamwork is involved, to ensure everyone is on the same page.


These incidents serve as a reminder of the importance of proper material handling techniques. By adhering to weight limits, using the right equipment, and practicing safe lifting methods (50/100 Rule), we can prevent injuries and ensure a safer work environment.

Stay safe, stay aware, and always prioritize your health over the task.