Improving Manual Material Handling

Resources for Material Handling

Consultative assistance is provided to employers through on-site visits, telephone support, publications, eTools and educational outreach. All services provided by Cal/OSHA Consultation are provided free of charge to California employers.

The following organizations may provide additional information on material handling equipment and work practices.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ANSI coordinates the U.S. voluntary consensus standards system, approves American National Standards, and is the sole U.S. representative and dues-paying member of the International Organization for Standardization and the IEC.

American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) APICS - The Educational Society for Resource Management is a not-for-profit international educational organization that offers education and professional certification programs.

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) ASME membership includes opportunities to share new concepts, spearhead solutions, and advance the science and practice of mechanical engineering through the programs of its 36 technical divisions and four institutes. ASME International is a nonprofit educational and technical organization serving a worldwide membership of 125,000.

Association of Professional Material Handling Consultants (APMHC) APMHC is a professional society composed of individual consultants in the material-handling field.

The Automated Material Handling Systems Association For over 27 years, the Automated Materials Handling Systems Association (formerly Automated Storage Retrieval Systems/Automatic Guided Vehicle Systems Users' Association) has promoted the sharing of knowledge and experience among its members, both users and vendors, to provide proven solutions to common warehousing/automation problems.

College-Industry Council on Materials Handling Education (CICMHE) The council provides information, teaching materials, and various events in support of education and research on material handling.

Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association (CEMA) CEMA's purpose is to promote voluntary standardization of conveyor design, manufacture, and application.

Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals seeks to enhance the development of the logistics profession by providing information and educational opportunities.

Darcor and Ergoweb ® Ergonomic White Paper The Ergonomics of Manual Material Handling - Pushing and Pulling Tasks

Fédération Européenne de la Manutention (FEM) FEM is the European manufacturers association of materials handling and lifting and storage equipment. It represents the technical, economic, and political interests of the industry. FEM serves technical progress and improves safety at work through the establishment of guidelines and business codes.

Industrial Truck Association (ITA) ITA's site includes directory of members' products by truck class, information on vendor sponsored operator training programs, data on standards for trucks and parts, events of the lift-truck industry, annual statistics on U.S. shipments of industrial trucks, and more.

Institute of Industrial & Systems Engineers (IISE) The IISE is a professional society dedicated to advancing the technical and managerial excellence of those concerned with improving the productivity of integrated systems of people, materials, information, equipment, and energy. The IISE serves the professional needs of industrial engineers and all individuals involved with improving quality and productivity.

International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA) The IWLA is the unified voice of the global logistics outsourcing industry, representing third-party warehousing, transportation, and logistics service providers.

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) The Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association (MHEDA) is the only trade association dedicated solely to improving the proficiency of the independent material-handling equipment distributor.

Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA) The MHIA is the nonprofit umbrella organization overseeing its two membership divisions: The Material Handling Institute (MHI) and the Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA). This vendor association's site includes a directory of MHIA members and its products as well as information on available literature.

The Material Handling Institute is the educational wing of the MHIA.

The following are product sections or councils within the MHIA:

Materials Handling < Management Society - Los Angeles Chapter (MHMS) The MHMS is an individual membership organization for the materials-handling practitioner and the materials-handling community.

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) The NAM is the nation's largest industrial trade association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states.

National Wooden Pallet < Container Association (NWPCA) The NWPCA is dedicated to the success of its members by helping them create cost effective, environmentally responsible solutions to meet their customers' changing unit load handling needs.

Packaging Machinery Manufacturing Institute (PMMI) The PMMI is a resource for packaging. PMMI's mission states that it is committed to improving, leading, and unifying all segments of the packaging industry worldwide.

Robotics Industries Association (RIA) The RIA is North America's only trade association focused exclusively on robotics. More than 250 member companies represent leading robot manufacturers, system integrators, end users, and researchers.

Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) The Society of Manufacturing Engineers is a nonprofit, professional society dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge in the field of manufacturing engineering. SME is a professional society serving the manufacturing industries. SME has some 60,000 members in 70 countries and supports a network of hundreds of chapters worldwide.

Supply-Chain Council (SCC) The Supply-Chain Council's membership is primarily practitioners representing a broad cross-section of industries, including manufacturers, services, distributors, and retailers.

University of California Agricultural Ergonomics Research Center, UC Davis This center's mission is to understand and apply ergonomic approaches to the development and evaluation of equipment designs and work practices that prevent musculoskeletal disorders in agricultural work.

Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) The Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) is the professional association for those in warehousing and distribution. WERC is a not-for-profit organization with more than 4,000 individual members.

The following methods are comprehensive tools designed to provide a detailed analysis of various types of manual material handling tasks. They can be used to evaluate lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, and other activities.

NIOSH Lifting Equation
The NIOSH Lifting Equation is a tool used to evaluate manual lifting tasks. This equation allows the user to insert the exact conditions of the lift (e.g., height, distance lifted, weight, position of weight relative to body, etc.). This equation accounts for asymmetrical lifts and objects that are diffi cult to grasp.

ACGIH Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for Lifting
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommends guidelines for safe lifting. The Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for lifting recommend upper and lower limits based upon frequency, duration, and other risk factors associated with lifting.

The following ACGIH Publications may be helpful:

  • TLVs and BEIs (#0106)
  • Lifting: TLV Physical Agents (7th Edition) Documentation (#7DOC-734)

To purchase publications, go to or call (513) 742-2020.

University of Michigan 3D Static Strength Prediction Program
3D Static Strength Prediction Program software predicts static strength requirements for tasks such as lifts, presses, pushes, and pulls. The program provides an approximate job simulation that includes posture data, force parameters, and male/female anthropometry. The results include the percentage of men and women who have the strength to perform the described job, spinal compression forces, and data comparisons to NIOSH guidelines. The user can analyze torso twists and bends and make complex hand force entries. Analysis is aided by an automatic posture generation feature and three-dimensional human graphic illustrations.

Ohio State Lumbar Motion Monitor
Traditionally, most workplace ergonomic assessments have focused on joint loading in static postures. However, epidemiologic studies have shown that three-dimensional dynamic motion is associated with an increased risk of occupational injury and illness. The Biodynamics Lab has developed a unique research program that focuses on the study of occupational joint loading under realistic dynamic motion conditions.

The program's goal is to obtain a better understanding of how much exposure to realistic risk factors is too much.

Snook's Psychophysical Tables
These tables are based on psychophysical data and provide the maximum acceptable weights and forces for various common tasks including lifting and lowering weights, pulling and pushing forces, and carrying objects. Values are given for different lift heights, number of lifts per minute, and percentiles of male and female populations capable of the task.

S. H. Snook, and V. M. Ciriello. "The Design of Manual Handling Tasks: Revised Tables of Maximum Acceptable Weights and Forces." Ergonomics 34(9): 1197-1213 (1991).

NIOSH Publications on Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
NIOSH offers many types of publications including: