Many of the injuries in manufacturing are musculoskeletal disorders caused by cumulative trauma — repetitive motions, high forces, awkward postures, and vibration exposure. The end results are carpel tunnel, arthritis, back pain, hernias, and other injuries. If a worker becomes injured, there are immediate negative effects that come with the medical costs of an injury, as well as indirect negative effects, including paying for overtime, modifying jobs, dealing with legal problems, replacing the injured worker, training the replacement, etc.
A company’s goal is to keep its people working at optimum capacity, and that can’t happen if people are getting injured at work because they don’t have the right tools or because they’re not using the tools properly.
Ergonomics is a science that deals with designing and arranging things so that people can use them easily and safely. Although you may be familiar with office ergonomics, the science can also be applied to the manufacturing environment to reduce injuries.
Companies can use the same approaches to address these issues (hazard identification, case documentation, assessment of control options and healthcare management techniques) that they use to address other safety problems.
Although there are many elements to a comprehensive ergonomics plan, here are a few things you can do to begin to bring down the level of cumulative trauma injuries:
- Encourage workers to grip objects with the whole hand, rather than just the fingers.
- Encourage workers to have a straight wrist when they grip their tools.
- Rotate jobs among workers, so there is less repetitive motion. (Workers also learn additional skills, making it easier to cover for an injured worker.)
- Eliminate tools that don’t fit.
- Put tools on a balancer, if possible.
If you have questions about ergonomics in the manufacturing environment or want to know how you can implement an ergonomics plan, give us a call at (864) 905-7835.
photo credit: Aero-Lift