Safe Material Handling

Hazards include:

Back injuries, muscle strains, cuts and scratches, chemical spills, building fires and even death.

Smart Safety Rules

  • Before lifting, stand close to the load with your feet should width apart.
  • Bend at your knees to lift material, not at your waist.
  • Ensure you have a first grasp on the load before lifting.
  • When holding a load, keep it as close to your body as possible.
  • Do no twist while carrying a load; turn by shifting your feet or taking short steps.
  • When piling materials in stacks, ensure the stack will stand steady. Serious injury can result from pile falls.
  • When two or more workers carry an object together, they should be about the same weight.


  • Lift cartons and boxes by grasping the opposite top and bottom corners, and draw a corner between your legs before lifting.
  • Carry long pieces of pipe, bar stock or lumber over a padded shoulder with the front end held high to avoid hitting other people or objects.
  • Use special caution when carrying loads around corners.
  • Protect your hands by wearing gloves when handling materials.
  • Lift loads with your legs to prevent back injury.
  • Ensure there are no slip or trip hazards in the area where you will be carrying a load.
  • Wear non-slippery, thick work shoes when carrying materials.


  • Bend at the waist when lifting materials.
  • Lift materials by yourself that are so bulky they cannot be properly grasped or lifted.
  • Twist your body when carrying a load. Turn by shifting your feet or with short steps.
  • Pile materials in stacks that are so high they are unsteady.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How much distance should your materials have from a sprinkler head?
  2. How can you avoid hitting other people or objects when carrying long materials over your shoulder?
  3. What guidelines are important to remember when lifting loads?
  4. What is the best way to carry cartons and boxes?