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Manual handling in the textile industry

This guidance is aimed at manufacturers and workers in the textile industry, including warehouse and delivery staff.

It highlights some common problems with manual handling and suggests possible solutions.

The information here replaces that given in the leaflet Manual handling in the textiles industry (IACL 103), which has been withdrawn.

More general information and guidance on musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and manual handling can also be found at the following links:

Manual handling - the problems

Musculoskeletal problems often stem from poor work place or job design.  Among the most common examples of risky activities include:

Some of these problems linked to the textile industry are outlined in more detail below, together with possible solutions.

Manual handling - some solutions

Handling bales

Location    

Usually in delivery and storage areas

Problems

Solutions

Handling bundles of processed fibre

Location    

Packaging areas and close to carding and gilling machines

Problems

Solutions

Handling rolls

Location

Problems

 Solutions

Handling loosely folded cloth

Location

Common to a number of intermediate stages of the production process, eg moving cloth to or from machines, inspection and quality control areas, including lifting to or from weighing scales

Problems

Solutions

Handling boxes

Location    

Mainly in delivery and storage areas, including to and from vehicles

Problems

Solutions

Note:

While reducing the weight of containers has significant benefits for most manual handling, in some instances, large, heavy containers may be more beneficial, discouraging manual handling and encouraging the use of mechanised procedures.

Lifting to and from bins, stillages, trolleys and machinery

Location    

Found in most areas but particularly common close to machinery

Problems

Awkward trunk postures when lifting from the bottom of bins, trolleys and stillages with rigid sides (eg bucket trolleys)

Solutions   

Handling of cones to and from boxes

Location    

Cones of spun yarn being removed from a conveyor and replaced by empty bobbins

Problems

Awkward postures, eg bending and reaching sideways into the bottom of the stillage

Solutions

Moving drums of dye

Problems

Awkward handling postures

Solutions

A simple purpose-made trolley, ie a trolley with its base at the same level as the raised storage shelf, making the transfer of drums easier (this kind of trolley can only help where the floor is suitable; the wheels will need to be maintained so that they run smoothly)

Working around machinery

Problems

Awkward and forceful postures often stem from the way people interact with machinery

Solutions

Modifying machinery is expensive but simple tools to assist handling can provide a cost-effective alternative, eg hand tool designed to lock onto the head of the bobbin allows the hand and arm to adopt much more suitable positions

Handling heavy yarn packages

Solutions

Maintenance

Problems

Maintenance tasks can lead to some of the most hazardous handling operations:

Solutions

Updated 2014-09-06