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The Official Mexican Norm NOM-036-1-STPS-2018, Ergonomics Risk Factors at Work – Identification, Analysis, Prevention and Control, Part 1: Manual Material Handling recently had an update to provide better guidance on keeping employees safe from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) when performing manual material handling (MMH) tasks.  

This ruling will come into effect on January 4th, 2023, and is: 

  • Applicable to all Mexican territories 
  • Applicable to all work centers where workers perform manual material handling routinely (>than 1x per day) 
  • Not applicable in MMH activities with less than 3kg (6.6 lbs.) 

Employers’ obligations to this ruling are to: 

  • Analyze the ergonomic MMH risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders 
  • Adopt prevention and control measures 
  • Inform workers about health risks related to MMH 
  • Train exposed workers on safety procedures and in prevention and control measures 

These updates and specifications are meant to keep employees safer by lowering MSD risk levels from MMH tasks. Some employers may be confused or unsure about these updates and specifications, so to help, we’ve broken them down here.  

Analyze Manual Material Handling Risk Factors 

To analyze MMH risk factors, employers must identify activities with MMH risk factors (lift, lower, carry, push, pull). This can be done with a simple risk level evaluation/quick estimation of identified activities, or a by specific risk level evaluation.  

Identify Manual Material Handling Risk Factors 

Risk factors can be identified by describing the task, the workers involved, and the frequency and duration of the task. The identification assessment for these factors must be conducted by an assessor who has proof of their qualifications. It must include results, conclusions and recommendations for the task to reduce the risk level and be made available to all team members.  

Prevent Injury and Control Risk

Employees must have their physical fitness assessed by a doctor, and a safety procedure for MMH must be in place, which includes: 

  • Load characteristics: dimensions, weight, stability, grip 
  • Environmental conditions 
  • Transportation paths: ladders, inclined ramps, platforms, etc. 

Some general safety measures must be adopted under this new ruling: 

  • Employees must be supervised following the procedure of their tasks. 
  • Employees should do stretching exercises before starting their tasks. 
  • The work area must be clean and free of obstacles. 
  • PPE for MMH tasks must be provided for employees if needed (ex: gloves, goggles, etc.). 
  • Pregnant employees (and up to 10 weeks after giving birth) cannot handle loads more than 10 kg (22 lbs.); or a medical doctor should determine the maximum weight the employee can handle. 
  • Employees cannot exceed lifting 10,000 kg (22,000 lbs.) cumulatively in an 8-hour shift across distances shorter than 10m.  
  • Employees cannot exceed lifting 6,000 kg (13,000 lbs.) cumulatively in an 8-hour shift across distances no longer than 20m.   

Some administrative controls to assist these measures could be: 

  • Limiting the frequency or time exposed for employees performing MMH tasks 
  • Issuing consistent break periods 
  • Diversify employees’ activities/tasks 
  • Implement job rotation among employees 

In Summary

To comply with the updated Mexican Ergonomics Standards, employers should: 

  • Assess all MMH tasks that require loads heavier than 3kg (6.6 lbs.). 
  • Complete simple risk estimations. 
  • Complete a specific risk assessment if a simple estimation/assessment doesn’t provide enough information. 

Here’s How We Can Help

VelocityEHS Industrial Ergonomics meets most requirements established by this new ergonomics standard.  Our assessment tools meet and exceed the minimum requirements established in the standard and enable easy display of the necessary Occupational Risk Factors as part of the assessment page and reports.