Enhancing material handling safety: Insights from the Webinar about MLITSD’s 2024-2025 Campaign

Callum and Carrie participated in last week’s webinar,  hosted by WSPS and the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training, and Skills Development (MLITSD). The webinar was aimed at helping companies and safety managers prepare for the Ministry’s current (April 2024-March 31, 2025) material handling focus. Here’s what we learned, and how we can help.

Struck by and Crush Injuries

The presentation focused on struck by and crush injuries, and particularly fatalities – material handling and related hazards have been the top cause of fatalities in the last 5 years. We were surprised by this focus, since ergonomists always associate material handling with manual handing and musculoskeletal injuries. They did get to MSDs, but later in the presentation. Obviously, preventing fatalities should be a priority, and we don’t argue with that.

More Diverse Sectors in 2024

The campaign includes more sectors than last year – Farming and Agriculture, Automotive, Retail, Food and beverage, Industrial services, Municipal Government, Primary metals, Tourism, Transportation, Wood and Metal fab, Vehicle sales and service, and Wholesalers. Last year’s material handling campaign resulted in over 3000 workplaces visited, and over 10000 orders written. The top 5 orders were aimed at equipment maintenance, lifting devices, worker training, machine guarding, and posting the OHSA.

Visibility hazards

Visibility hazards will be prioritized. Are your walkways painted? Do workers wear high-vis clothing in dock areas? Do you have dome mirrors at blind corners? Have you considered installing blue lights that project from forklifts in their direction of travel? (This is cool new technology that we’ve seen at client facilities but had not given much thought. Blue lights are remarkably inexpensive and, according to the research, quite effective.)

Ladder Safety

Another focus for the upcoming year is ladder safety and manual handling on ladders. When you lift a load with hands outside the footprint of the ladder, the task is more difficult for your body, you fatigue more readily, and your risk of falls increases. The webinar emphasized the “3 points of contact” rule. Callum and I were a bit stumped by this. If a goal of ladder safety is to maintain 3 points of contact, and manual handling involves lifting with the hands, just how much manual handling can be done from a ladder? We can’t figure out how to carry anything, even in one hand, while maintaining 3 points of contact at all times. (Try carrying a coffee cup up stairs to simulate a ladder. Even if you are able to hold the railing continuously with one hand, one foot and the coffee cup hand are “out of contact” at any given time.) We wish the authorities would say, “No handling on ladders” or revise their thinking about 3 points of contact.

Manual Material Handling procedures

Safe manual handling procedures need to be developed, specific to the work being performed. OK, we loved this, because it aligns perfectly with our push to identify, document, and provide practical training on “ergonomic work strategies”. It’s not enough to provide general “lifting” training – the training needs to address the specific hazards in your workplace. The webinar suggested that supervisors can make great safety coaches.

Hazard and Risk Assessment

Hazards need to be assessed. The webinar suggested that some simple risk assessments can be performed in-house, and that more in-depth assessments should be completed for high risk jobs. (We can help with assessments and implementation support!)

Free Resources

The webinar pointed to some free resources from WSPS which I’ve linked here.

These videos provide a good introduction to safer manual handling.




Here is an article about preparing for an inspection: https://www.wsps.ca/resource-hub/articles/prepare-for-mlitsd-material-handling-inspections

Need some help with ergonomics (MSD risk) assessments, hands-on training to teach workers how to use safe lifting practices that are hazard-specific (relevant in your workplace), or other technical ergonomist support? Contact Carrie@TaylordErgo.com or check out our website to learn more!



  1. How can I conduct an effective ergonomics (MSD risk) assessment in my workplace?

To conduct an effective ergonomic risk assessment, begin by systematically identifying potential ergonomic hazards in your workplace. This involves observing workers as they perform their tasks, interviewing them to understand their musculoskeletal discomfort, and reviewing injury records. Once hazards are identified, evaluate the risks associated with these hazards by considering the frequency and duration of tasks, the effort required, and the worker’s body position. Use ergonomics assessment tools like checklists to identify hazards, or get support from an ergonomist for an in-depth assessment.

  1. What specific solutions can be implemented for different industries mentioned in the campaign?

Each industry mentioned in the MLITSD campaign has unique ergonomics challenges that require “Taylor’d” solutions. In the Automotive sector, common ergonomic solutions include automated systems for heavy lifting.

In the Retail industry, ergonomic solutions often focus on safe manual handling practices, such as using mechanical aids for lifting heavy items and providing training on proper lifting techniques. Shelving design and organization, and stocking techniques, which keep frequently used items within easy reach, can also minimize the need for awkward postures.

For the Farming and Agriculture sector, ergonomic interventions might include using tools and equipment that reduce the need for repetitive motions and awkward postures. Adjustable seats and controls on machinery can help accommodate workers of different sizes, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

In the Food and Beverage industry, ergonomic improvements can involve optimizing layouts to reduce excessive reaching and bending, using ergonomic knives and tools to minimize hand strain, and implementing anti-fatigue mats to reduce the physical stress of standing for long periods.

For Industrial Services, solutions can include redesigning workstations to allow better working postures, providing adjustable chairs and desks, and using lifting aids to handle heavy materials. Regular training on ergonomics principles is also crucial.

  1. What are the benefits of using blue lights on forklifts, and how do they compare to other visibility solutions?

Blue lights on forklifts offer several benefits as a visibility enhancement solution in material handling environments. These lights project a bright blue spot or line on the floor in the direction of the forklift’s travel, providing a clear visual cue to pedestrians and other vehicles that a forklift is approaching. This continuous warning is particularly effective in noisy environments where auditory warnings like horns might not be heard.

In combination with more traditional visibility solutions such as dome mirrors or high-visibility clothing, blue lights provide a proactive and dynamic warning. Dome mirrors, while useful at blind corners, require workers to actively check them, which might not always happen. High-visibility clothing enhances a worker’s visibility but does not address the need for continuous awareness of moving vehicles.

Blue lights are relatively inexpensive and easy to install on forklifts, making them a cost-effective solution. They can be especially beneficial in low-light conditions where other visual cues might be less effective. Research has shown that blue lights significantly improve pedestrian awareness and reduce the risk of accidents in workplaces where forklifts are used.

Overall, blue lights complement other visibility solutions by providing an additional layer of safety, ensuring that both pedestrians and forklift operators are continuously aware of potential hazards. This combination of solutions creates a more comprehensive safety strategy in environments where forklifts are in operation.





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