How to Use a Wheelbarrow Safely
In 2015, Australia saw many injuries at construction sites. Thirty percent of those injuries were due to pushing, pulling, or lifting objects.
Some equipment, like power tools, are dangerous for obvious reasons. But most things without a motor, like wheelbarrows, can seem harmless. But, it’s still possible to injure yourself while using a wheelbarrow. That’s why wheelbarrow safety is so important.
Never thought about preventing wheelbarrow injuries? It’s not too late to get started. In this guide, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do so you don’t get hurt while using a wheelbarrow — keep reading to learn more.
1. Posture Matters
No matter how heavy or light your load is, you should always think about your posture while using a wheelbarrow. Of course, the heavier the load is, the greater your risk of injury will be.
The right posture stacks your shoulders above your hips and your hips above your knees. You shouldn’t be hunched over or leaning forward, even though this might feel like an easier way to push. It will add more strain on your back, increasing the chances of injury.
Before you lift the handles of the wheelbarrow, stand between them with your back straight. Plant your feet with one a little bit in front of the other.
When you lift, use your legs, rather than your back. Use the same method to dump the wheelbarrow and push it, and you won’t run into back problems.
2. Make Several Trips
If you have heavy material or a large load, don’t hesitate to break it up into several trips.
In the construction world, you’re often pressured to work fast under tight deadlines. But if you injure yourself, you’ll lose more money when you have to take time off to recover. It’s much better to take a little bit more time to work safely than to pay for the consequences of getting injured.
3. Check Your Path
Before you start pushing a wheelbarrow load, make sure the path you need to follow is free and clear of obstacles.
Move any equipment or other roadblocks out of the way before you get started. Make sure other employees and anyone else are safely out of the way, too. Surprise obstacles can make situations more dangerous than they need to be.
4. Use Proper Storage
Even when you’re not actively using a wheelbarrow, it can pose a danger if it’s not stored correctly.
When you store a wheelbarrow on a job site, make sure it’s clear of stairways and pathways. Keep them away from any emergency equipment that you might need to reach fast, too.
5. Remember Wheelbarrow Maintenance
Even though wheelbarrows don’t have motors that can break down, they still need some maintenance.
If the handles start to splinter or become split, replace them with new ones. Always inflate the tires to the proper levels. Add lubrication as needed to keep your wheelbarrow rolling smoothly.
You should regularly check the nuts and bolts of your wheelbarrow and tighten them up as needed, too. If you forget these maintenance steps, you might end up with wheels or a handle falling off. Then, a tipping or runaway wheelbarrow can easily injure other people on the site.
6. Use the Right Tires
Not all wheelbarrow tires work well on all surfaces.
For example, solid rubber tires can last a long time, but they only work on surfaces that are already smooth, like a concrete walkway. If you won’t have these surfaces prepared on your construction site, make sure to look for the right kind of tires.
Tires with air in them take more maintenance, but they can travel over rough terrain without any issues. As long as you keep them filled properly, these tires will help you move all kinds of different loads as needed.
7. Load Up Carefully
The way you load your wheelbarrow can help prevent wheelbarrow injuries.
Keep your load to the front of the wheelbarrow, and make sure it’s balanced so it won’t tip over. Don’t load material too high, even if it’s light. You need to make sure you can see over and around the wheelbarrow as you move.
For larger loads, make sure you secure them so they won’t fall over or shift around. You want the material to stay stable so you can maintain control of it.
8. Have a Warning Signal
Sometimes, unexpected things happen and you’ll lose control of the wheelbarrow. Work with your team and anyone else on the site to agree on a warning signal in case this happens. That way, anyone can get out of the way quickly when they need to.
9. Wear Proper Equipment
Even though you’re only using a wheelbarrow, you should still wear protective gear, just in case.
This includes a hard hat, durable clothing that covers your body, safety goggles, construction boots, and heavy gloves. You might need to make adjustments to your gear as needed, but always wear the basics when you’re on a job site.
10. Don’t Go Too Fast
Stay with a walking speed, even when you’re moving light loads over easy ground. This way, you’ll always keep control of the load. Try to stay at a steady pace, and don’t start or stop any more than you need to.
11. Use Right Angles
If there’s an obstacle that you need to cross, like a plank on the ground, cross it at a right angle. That way, the wheel won’t get caught and make your load fall.
Make Your Job Sites Free From Wheelbarrow Injuries
If you follow all of these steps, you should never have any wheelbarrow injuries on the job. Make these things a habit, so using a wheelbarrow properly will feel like second nature. You won’t even need to think about it.
Don’t forget to replace old, worn-out wheelbarrows regularly for safety, too. Check out our wheelbarrow selection here.