Hazardous Material Handling

Task
Workers collect carboys containing hazardous waste from laboratories at a biotech research facility.

Problem
Workers make a "circuit" around the research campus of a large pharmaceutical company, collecting 5-gallon carboys containing liquid hazardous waste. These are positioned in hard-to-reach areas under the counters. After sliding and lifting the containers out from under the counters, workers must negotiate their way through a crowded laboratory and hold the door to the hallway open with one hand while carrying the container with the other. Risk factors include awkward postures of the back and shoulders, and high forces sliding, lifting, and carrying the carboys.

Intervention
Install lockable wheels under the containment vessels and use a long hook to pull them out from under the counters Use the hooks to roll the carboy in the containment vessel through the lab into the hallway, with one hand free to hold the door open. In the hallway, the carboy is lifted from the containment vessel onto a 4-wheeled handtruck.

Cost
Estimated US $100 in parts per carboy

Evaluation of Intervention

  • Pros
  • Eliminate most lifting and carrying
  • Significantly reduce bending to retrieve carboys from under counter
  • Increase safety in the laboratory, especially in the doorway area
  • Cons
  • Still need to lift carboy from containment vessel to hand-truck in hallway

Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Intervention

  • Reduction of Identified Risk Factor
  • No New Risk Factors Introduced
  • Productivity not Reduced
  • Low Cost
  • Total
  • 4/5
  • 5/5
  • 5/5
  • 5/5
  • 19/20

Acknowledgements
Submitted by Ira Janowitz, PT, CPE, UC Ergonomics Program