What Is Material Handling?

Material handling, in its most basic of terms, is the moving of materials from point A to point B. Every business involves some form of material handling. It may be the moving of crates around a warehouse or boxes of paper from the storage closet to the office. Material handling is found in many different fields and industries such as construction, manufacturing, shipping, research, and retail. There are many methods used to handle materials and different equipment depending on the type of materials that need to be moved. Utilizing efficient handling and storage of materials is a vital part of any industry as it provides a continuous flow of materials and reduces the stress of labor. So what does material handling involve? Are there any safety concerns? What kind of equipment is used? Here is a closer look at material handling.

Moving and Handling Material


The moving and handling of materials must be done with the proper equipment by experienced and trained professionals. Using the wrong equipment or letting just anyone try to move and store materials can lead to accidents and slow down production progress. Equipment that is used must be big enough to safely handle the load being transported. Attention has to be paid to height, weight, and leverage.  being used must be of a size and have the power to handle the load safely.

Experience is a necessary in lifting and moving materials around a business or job site. An operator needs to have a working
knowledge of how to stack items and where to store them so that they are not in the way. In a retail business, you don’t want to place any times that customers might run into, trip over, or otherwise hurt themselves. In construction or warehouse settings, one must always think safety and have the ability to react quickly.

Experienced operators and handlers  should plan every lift and move. They must make certain that their path is free of all obstacles and pedestrians. If line of sight is difficult, you should use someone as a spotter to help guide you.

Storage of materials is a part of material handling and very important. must not create a hazard. Storage areas can easily create a hazard and slow down production of stored improperly. Areas should be kept free of scattered materials that may cause someone to trip and fall. Hazardous materials should be carefully stored so as not to cause fires or pose a threat to employee health. You should also be mindful of pests such as rodents that can get into stored materials and cause damage. When stacking materials for storage, keep in mind such factors as the  height and weight of the combined stacks, the condition of the containers, and how accessible the materials are to the business that uses them.

Why Is Material Handling Important

Material handling is important because it is a reliable means to transport goods and materials to areas where they are needed. They help keep production flowing. Without proper material handling, production slows down. There are many companies out there that specialize in providing material handling services for any type of job or industry.

Safety is also an important aspect of material handling. The methods and equipment used are designed to help make tasks easier and (if safety guidelines are observed) to help decrease injuries while on the job. Accidents can easily occur from unsafe or improperly handled equipment and materials. Workers frequently cite the weight and bulkiness of objects being lifted as major contributing factors to their injuries, one of the most common of which is back injuries. In 1990, back injuries resulted in 400,000 workplace accidents. The majority of these types of injuries occurred from body movement such as bending and lifting. In addition, other accidents can occur from such things as falling objects that were not stacked properly to items that were not stored properly.

Material Handling Methods and Equipment

There is not one piece of equipment that is designed to carry out all forms of material handling. It takes many different kinds of equipment that all perform different functions. Some of them do have some overlapping functions but most have only one purpose. Here are some of the more common types of material handling equipment: cranes, slings, moving trucks, forklifts, pallet jacks, hand dollys, conveyors, trailers, storage bins, pallets, and storage containers.

What is more is that sometimes material handling involves landscaping, excavating, or demolition. In this case, the materials would be things such as dirt, sand, rocks, broken masonry, or debris. This is also classified as materials handling and can be just as important as moving finished products from a warehouse. To handle and move these materials, the proper equipment that is going to be used will be tractors, bulldozers, backhoes, cranes, and gravel trucks.

Safety And Training Programs

There are many safety and education training programs involving proper materials handling. These programs center on such topics as safety, engineering, equipment training, handling of hazardous materials, and storage. The content of the training should emphasize factors that will contribute to successfully moving materials, keeping production flowing, and reducing workplace hazards. Training and safety programs should educate employees to the dangers of improper lifting and how to avoid unnecessary physical stress and strain. Training programs should also instruct workers on the proper use of various equipments.

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