Has ergonomics of blue-collar industrial workers been forgotten?
Ergonomics at work is a hot topic at the moment. Office workers around the world have switched to working at home instead of company offices. Sales of electric desks and home office furniture has spiked in many countries with the aim of improving home office ergonomics. But how is the ergonomics of industrial blue collar workers?
Treston, a global leader in manufacturing ergonomic industrial furniture and workstations, has put together an information package concentrating especially on the ergonomics of mobile industrial work in order to raise awareness of the importance of good workstation ergonomics, both for the employer and for the employee. Why concentrate on mobile industrial work? Manual handling of loads is generally considered an occupational risk factor for lower back and shoulder complaints (1) and it is in fact the most common cause of occupational fatigue, lower back pain and lower back injuries (2, 3).
This information package offers practical information and advice for employers on how to improve ergonomics of mobile industrial and work. We also explain why companies should invest in ergonomics. The information package includes, for example:
- Video “How to choose an ergonomic trolley for industrial tasks” sums up the most important ergonomics factors to consider while selecting a trolley for industrial tasks
- Tips to consider when designing an ergonomic, functional and productive workspace, for example: How do the in-house logistics flows affect the workspace layout? How are components and materials stocked to the workspace? How do parts arrive and leave? Is there a need for mobile storage or transportation trolleys?
- 9 points checklist: “What to consider when selecting a trolley for industrial tasks”
- Full information package on ergonomics for manual handling of loads, concentrating on:
- Pushing and pulling from ergonomics viewpoint
- How does handle size, position and design affect ergonomics?
- The role of castors in minimizing the forces needed to move trolleys
- Fact sheet: Why should you invest in ergonomics?
- FACT: Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect most employees
- MEASURES: Proper ergonomics can reduce MSD-related absences as much as 72%
- RESULTS: Productivity improved 46%
According to European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (4) musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the single largest occupational health hazard in Europe: up to three out of five employees report musculoskeletal symptoms. Occupational musculoskeletal disorders caused by poorly designed working methods and working postures not only cause physical strain to employees, but also burden companies and society as a whole through sick leave, incapacity for work, and decreased productivity.
In the long term, there are several issues related to efficiency, safety and productivity that are positively affected by proper ergonomics. A study (5) made on estimating the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions revealed that musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders were reduced 57% and absences due to MSDs reduced 72% as a result of measures that improve ergonomics. This study on the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions concluded that productivity improved 46% through measures that improved ergonomics. This indicates that there are several aspects that proper ergonomics can have a positive impact on in the long run. The benefits of proper ergonomics are both for the employer and for the employee.
LIST OF SOURCES:
- Hoozemans Marco, Kuijer P, Kingma I, van Dieën J, de Vries W, van Der Woude L, Veeger D, van Der Beek A, Frings-Dresen M. 2004. Mechanical loading of the low back and shoulders during pushing and pulling activities. Ergonomics, 15 January 2004, Vol. 47(1), pp.1-18.
- National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2007-131/ pdfs/2007-131.pdf
- Goggins, R. W., et al. 2008. Estimating the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions through case studies: Implications for predictive cost-benefit analysis. Journal of Safety Research