Increasing health and safety for the wood industry

Health, Safety & Ergonomics, Wood

Handling both raw materials and finished items in wood product manufacturing is in some ways a perfect storm of lifting challenges. Combining large material sizes, weights, and often porous surfaces with hard to manoeuvre forms, the manual handling solutions in use- such as  moving large plywood or wood sheets or furniture – makes following safety procedures difficult but necessary.

TAWI – for a safe and profitable wood products industry

Lifting any large or heavy product requires power, and positioning these cumbersome products accurately requires a high level of dexterity and precision. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the wood industry, where heavy lifting pieces is not only common but a daily requirement.

Male carpenter holding and lifting a large plywood sheet in factory

Ironically enough, the things that make MFD or plywood sheets such great materials are also the factors that make them so difficult to lift safely. A full-size sheet of ¾” plywood weighs from 25 to 32 kg, MFD even more. And if you are producing products from raw materials, the challenges change along the way. Moving the raw material from storage to the workstations along the production line, moving the partially finished product along the line, and then loading the finished product for transport – all require multiple employees and pose numerous risks to both your workforce and the products. And the finished product – furniture – comes in all shapes and sizes, which further challenges your manual lifting procedures.

Did you know?

  • Manual handling is a leading cause of work-related injuries when dealing with wood sheets or furniture
  • Manual handling can cause strains and sprains, back injuries, lacerations and fractures, and even fatalities
  • Manual handling injuries often stem from jobs involving heavy or awkward loads
  • Repetitive stress injuries arise from tasks that involve difficulty in gripping, excessive use of force, repetition, twisting and other awkward postures
  • Stress and strain injuries over time can result in permanent disability

Several manual handling risks have been identified in wood product workplaces. These include poorly designed delivery and dispatch areas, working at the wrong height while manufacturing and assembling products, and moving materials and products through the workshop.

The great deal of manual handling involved in the manufacture of wooden products – from doors and windows, roof trusses and wall frames, to kitchen cabinets and joineries and everything in between – greatly increases the likelihood of products being damaged and the likelihood of workers getting injured. Poor working posture can lead to various problems, such as pain in the lower back, shoulder or neck. And a single accident can derail an entire working day or – in extreme cases – an entire business.

A risk to your workers is a risk to your bottom line.

When product quality falls, customer retention does as well. And when customers leave, your bottom line will reflect their departure. There are many ways that improper lifting procedures can impact your profitability. Damage to products is only one. Production workforce absences due to illness or injury also represent a large chunk of operating expenses and decrease productivity. Injuries also weigh down your operations in terms of absence due to injury and other costs. Production employees tasked with lifting and picking duties are at greater risk for workplace accidents and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s). MSDs alone are often responsible for a third of all work-related injuries.

Inefficient lifting operations can lead to weeks of wasted labour annually. The question you should ask yourself is this  – how much more productive would your operations be if you had a few extra weeks of labour at your disposal?

Two male workers holding and lifting a wood panel on the shop floor

Ergonomics = Economics

Even the most physically fit employee will be tired – occasionally, a few will be injured. On the other hand, a vacuum lifter never gets tired – or injured – just keeps working. With a TAWI vacuum solution, you get both power and precision, enabling a single employee to easily manage large sheets of wood or MFD, as well as the products they are used in, ergonomically, easily, and safely, avoiding repetitive stress injuries, absence, and workplace accidents.

Put, increasing safety increases speed and productivity. And the more efficient and streamlined your material lifting and handling procedures are, the more effective – and profitable – your business can be.

And that’s where TAWI comes in. Despite the broad range of risks involved with manual lifting in the wood products industry, we at TAWI know that manual handling injuries and damage are preventable. We will gladly help you create a safer, more efficient, more profitable workplace.

man lifting piece of wood using handheld vacuum lifter

Calculating the cost of injury – How does Improper lifting cost your company?

  • Lower production
  • Poor product quality
  • Drop in customer satisfaction
  • Decreased productivity
  • Absence due to illness
  • Injury claims
  • Higher insurance premiums
  • High staff turnover
  • Lawsuits

A secure, yet gentle touch

Manual handling also risks damage to both work materials and finished products, with traditional lifting solutions often leaving marks or scratches. The challenge is to be able to handle both rough or smooth wood surfaces, to be able to lift, tilt, and rotate a wide range of materials and products with both care and ease. With the advent of vacuum lifting, this challenge has finally been met.

Vacuum lifters are designed to achieve maximum speed in production and assembly, improve overall logistics and ergonomics, and provide quick ROI. Unlike traditional solutions, vacuum lifters can grip even the rough, often porous surfaces of wood materials safely and securely and enable easy use by a single user without straps or slings.

Vacuum lifting – the next best thing to hiring superman

Handling the large sheets of plywood or MFD that go into wood products and the products themselves is often difficult, even for multiple employees. With a vacuum lifting system, these tasks become a simple one-man job that can be performed safely and quickly.

Woman lifting and moving sheet with vacuum lifter

With TAWI vacuum lifting, every employee is a super-employee, able to safely and efficiently lift and manoeuvre any wood product material, from sheets of plywood to tall wooden planks and cupboards or other wooden furniture. Our easy-to-use user interface gives you total control of any load weighing up to 500 kilos, allowing full rotation and tilting up to 180 degrees, making it a snap to move doors, panels and other sheet materials from where they are to where you need them – and without damage to workers or products.

A Quick Lifting Checklist

  • Do your lifting and handling operations twisting, stooping, strenuous pushing and pulling, or awkward positioning?
  • Does your work process require repetitive motion or movements from staff?
  • Does it involve loads or products of high weight or unusual size that are difficult to grasp or manoeuvre?
  • Do you wish to reduce absence due to injury or illness?
  • Is there any evidence of improvised changes to controls or equipment?
  • Do you have reports of accidents or injuries associated with manual handling?
  • Do you have trouble recruiting, hiring and retaining qualified workers?
  • Do you wish to increase workforce productivity?
  • Do you wish to manage better or reduce labour costs?

Suppose you answered Yes to any of the above. In that case, we have some excellent news: TAWI has solutions that can streamline your production process, increase profitability, and dramatically reduce employee injury and turnover.

TAWI is here to help

TAWI lifting and handling solutions have many advantages – they are easy to learn and use, fast and reliable in operation, are superior in quality, durability, and reliability. Our solutions are ideal for almost any lifting or moving task in the wood products industry, from moving materials and unfinished products in and out of a production line to loading and unloading finished items. Engineered to work where you need them to work and available in both fixed and portable versions, TAWI solutions can be adapted to meet almost any requirement you may face – now and in the future.

All TAWI units are designed to protect workers and materials and to withstand the often-harsh conditions in production facilities, built to enable easy cleaning and maintenance and to integrate with your workflow as seamlessly as possible.

Please reach out to us today to learn more about implementing a cost-saving and timesaving TAWI solution and begin making your wood products operations safer, more efficient, and more profitable.


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