BY Chase Kammerer
Amazon was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for ergonomic hazards and other safety risks.
Federal safety inspectors concluded that the twisting, bending, and long reaches that Amazon warehouse workers perform as much as nine times per minute put them at high risk for lower back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders.
While unfortunate, this news is an excellent reminder to review ergonomics, safety, and health at your plant. Don’t wait for an OSHA visit to take another look at your safety policies to address Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) injury risks to team members.
Ergonomic interventions have proven effective, including modifying existing equipment, modifying work practices, and offering new tools or devices to assist with production.
These changes can reduce physical demands, eliminate unnecessary movements, lower injury rates, and associated workers’ compensation costs, and reduce team member turnover rates. So, what types of ergonomic problems are typical in manufacturing jobs, and what can employers do to help prevent injury and stay on top of worker safety?
Some of the ergonomic problems that are typical in manufacturing jobs include strained postures, overexertion, repetitive actions, fixed postures, and vibrations.
Some simple solutions for box plants include using devices to avoid lifting and carrying when possible, using material handling carts to reduce the injury risk factors of carrying items by hand, using pneumatic roll pushers to minimize efforts and strains, and promoting good body mechanics.
Changing the movement behavior of workers can be made more enticing through safety wearables, small devices worn or placed on the body to collect real-time data. The sensors on safety wearables provide real-time audible and vibration feedback to problematic movements and cumulative risks. Read more about the benefits in a recent article from ehstoday.com.
You can find a more comprehensive list of wearable safety tech companies at tracxn.com. And calculate the ROI vs. lost time and medically consulted injury costs to see how viable they might be.
It is also worth checking out case studies on the Soteranalytics website or other technology-based safety companies like Kinetic. This technology not only tells you where ergonomic issues may exist but also shares information with the team member about their habits and provides ergonomic tutorials on performing repetitive tasks.
Be aware the federal government seems to be getting tougher on ergonomics issues. Start evaluating solutions today.
Chase Kammerer is the Technical Services Manager at FBA. Reach him at [email protected].