Poor ergonomics on the job can lead to serious musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These injuries have widespread consequences for workers and employers. Serious short- and long-term disabilities can occur when the right ergonomic equipment is not in place. For Health and Safety and Human Resources Managers within manufacturing and industrial organizations, ergonomics should be a top priority. When an employee is injured on the job, it opens employers up to a wide range of liabilities—including disability compensation, increased insurance premiums and settlement costs, among others.
Ergonomic equipment and systems are specifically designed to allow workers to do their jobs without putting their bodies in harm’s way. Stresses on the body can lead to injury; it doesn’t have to be just heavy lifting. MSDs can occur as a result of repetitive motion, improper lifting, or forceful exertion or motion, among other factors. The right ergonomic equipment alleviates these potentially dangerous situations. Let’s take a look at a few of the most critical ergonomic systems for the workplace.
Desks and Workstation Lifts
Jobs in the manufacturing, healthcare laboratory and industrial fields oftentimes require workers to position their bodies in ways that can lead to injury. Jobs types in these fields include mechanical engineers, assembly professionals, laboratory workers, mechanical engineers and manufacturers of furniture. Many desk and workstation lifts, including those from Ergo Equipment, use hydraulic legs that move the workstation surface up or down to achieve a safe position for each worker.
Because workers’ heights vary, there is no single static workstation that fits everyone. The height of a workstation is critical to ergonomics because, when the body is positioned improperly, it can lead to strain. Ideally, when sitting, the elbows should be at a 90-degree angle when resting on the station or desk. When sitting in a chair, knees should be level with the hips or just below. Feet should be flat on the ground or on a flat, sturdy footrest.
Vacuum & Magnetic Lifts
Lifting and material handling are among the leading causes of ergonomic-related workplace injury. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than 36% of injuries that lead to missed work involve the back and shoulder. Even light loads can cause problems. Activities that require overexertion, bending, twisting, turning and improper lifting techniques put strain on the back and can lead to muscle sprains and strains.
Vacuum and magnetic lifts are designed to lift objects, removing the human element. Ergonomic lifting equipment comes in a range of forms and functions. The Ergo Equipment portable jib crane, for example, uses an articulating arm to lift up to 180lbs and can easily be moved from place to place by one worker. Vacuum lifts can be used to handle boxes, bags and other objects. Many lifts have a lifting capacity of up to 500lbs; some can be designed to customers’ specifications.
Electric Walkie Tuggers
The force required to push or pull heavy loads puts serious strain on the musculoskeletal system. This strain can cause injury to muscles, tendons, circulation and nerves. Damaging the back while pushing and pulling is the biggest risk factor and can lead to the most serious injuries. The risk for pulling a muscle or damaging the back increases when these motions are repeated, day in and day out, on a jobsite.
Tuggers can be designed specifically to push and pull heavy loads. Some are offered as battery powered and self-contained, and are operated by walking behind the unit. A range of tugs are available, depending on the specific requirements of the job. The smallest units are capable of moving loads of up to 1,000lbs when the load is on a wheeled cart, whereas heavy-duty tugs can pull up to 50,000lbs. Other tugs are specifically designed for dumpsters and carts and others can move a range of equipment.
Manufacturing and industrial lifting requirements vary widely. Some are designed to lift a wide range of objects and feature a modular design. Lifts can handle drums and barrels, rolls, totes and boxes, among others. These ergonomic products not only lift, but they also tilt, turn and precisely orient the position of an object for safe, effective movement and unloading. Platforms and end effectors can often be custom-designed to customer specifications.
When the job calls for employees to consistently put strain on their bodies, addressing ergonomics should be a top priority. Investing in proper ergonomic equipment and systems in the workplace is a smart idea for protecting the health and safety of workers. Doing so also reduces the chance of subjecting businesses to serious liability. IHW
[Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as an Ergo Equipment Blog post and is used with permission from American Sales Development, LLC. For the original article, go to https://bit.ly/2MXW8l7 .]