Focus Four Health: Material Handling
You are familiar with OSHA’s Focus Four in construction, but you may not be familiar with the Focus Four - Health recently distributed by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). The Focus Four Health are; Manual Material Handling, Noise, Air Contaminants, and High Temperatures.
Heat is a hazard during the summer, but it is not always taken seriously. This is a serious health threat and one where the effects occur during or shortly after exposure. An average of 30 workers die and thousands become sick every year from heat exposure. The past 16 years rank among the top 17 warmest years on record.
Don’t underestimate the impact of MSDs:
- There are no straightforward medical remedies for MSDs
- MSDs can be very painful, and doctors often prescribe pain medication to help workers deal with the pain. Employees can become addicted to painkillers, even at prescribed doses, leading to dependency problems that can spiral into many other problems. Construction workers have the highest overall number of deaths of all industries and the rate of overdose deaths is six times higher than the average industry rate.
How should you look at manual material handling overexertion? Consider how each work task will be performed, then consider the extent to which the following list of five common risk factors applies: W-H-A-T PACE?
Weight: The heavier the load the higher the risk.
Handling ease: Difficult-to-maneuver loads (no handles or can’t be carried close to the body, loads with contents likely to move) are higher risk.
Awkward postures: Loads that require postures such as stooping, reaching, twisting, bending or kneeling are higher risk.
Time/distance: Loads that require a longer time to handle or a longer carrying distance are higher risk.
PACE: Handling many loads per shift is a risk factor.
» Download the Focus Four for Health Guidance Document