OSH Answers Fact Sheets

Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >

Download the free OSH Answers app
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play

Search all fact sheets:

Type a word, a phrase, or ask a question

MMH - Materials Flow

What can be done to reduce the amount of times material is moved or handled?

  • Optimize the movement of materials to eliminate unnecessary manual handling steps. Options include:
    • Combining operation locations.
    • Shortening carrying distances.
    • Monitoring inventory so that stock is not moved more than necessary.
  • Use conveyors, slides, or chutes to link workstations/storage areas or reduce carrying distance.
  • Use an "air" table to help slide packages across a surface.
  • Use vertical or horizontal carousels to rotate materials closer to the worker.
  • Store materials close to where they are needed.
  • Use rollers to eliminate manual lifting and carrying.
  • Use floor rollers while loading or unloading trucks to reduce lifting.
Floor rollers for loading or unloading trucks

  • Use a sliding bed while loading and unloading small trucks to avoid overreaching and carrying in an awkward position.
Sliding bed

  • Eliminate extra loading or unloading steps where possible.
  • Unload as close as possible to the place where material will be needed.
Unload as close as possible

  • Use ramps to avoid lifting and dragging over edges.
Use ramps to avoid lifting and dragging

  • Use containers that allow fluids to pour or empty without lifting the container.
  • Use a siphon or pump to move liquids instead of lifting the container.
Hose from sink to bucket located on a trolley
Bucket located under tap
Emply bucket directly into open grate

  • Use a powered stair climber to reduce effort of carrying of loads, and reduce force needed to move loads up and down stairs.
Powered stair climber

  • Use vacuum lift to eliminate manual lifting and carrying of large packages, containers, boxes and barrels.
Vacuum lift

Document last updated on June 4, 2019

Add a badge to your website or intranet so your workers can quickly find answers to their health and safety questions.


Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.