The latest statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show employees in the warehousing industry experience almost twice the number of injuries as workers in the general population. Overexertion causes the majority of injuries and costs the industry billions of dollars in claims and lost productivity each year.
In today’s post, we’ll review ergonomic equipment that can:
- Reduce workplace injuries
- Improve productivity
- Pay for itself in the long run!
Ergonomic Equipment and Best Practices for Warehouse Employees
What is Ergonomics?
According to OSHA: Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Adapting tasks, work stations, tools, and equipment to fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Ergonomics draws on a number of scientific disciplines, including physiology, biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry, industrial hygiene, and kinesiology.
Photo: Division of Occupational Safety and Health, California Department of Industrial Relations.
Ergonomic experts talk about the “power zone” and “handshake zone.” These special zones describe, essentially, a neutral, standing position where the worker does not reach too far above, below, or away from their body - avoiding any unnatural movements. Ergonomic equipment is the most effective way to prevent worker injuries by ensuring workers handle loads while in the optimal body position.
An ergonomic guide developed by Cal/OSHA specifically recommends:
- Using tilt stands for smaller items
- Utilizing powered tilters and/or lift tables for larger items
- Positioning pallet loads at a height that allows workers to lift and lower within their power zone (above the knees, below the shoulders, and close to the body).
Hydraulic Work Tables
Because workers are a variety of heights, an adjustable table allows material to be placed at an optimal, ergonomic distance for workers regardless of their size. An easy to adjust hydraulic table promotes compliance with ergonomic practices.
A tilt table places products within easy reach and prevents workers from repeatedly having to twist or bend over.
Lift tables, scissor lift tables, and PalletPals, helps workers manage heavy loads. As the names suggest, they are an efficient way for warehouse staff to load or unload pallets by maintaining positioning the load in the worker’s “power zone.” Compare this to unassisted pallet loading where the staff member must repeatedly bend down - increasing their risk of strain.
Ensure workers follow ergonomic best practices
According to an expert interviewed by Modern Material Handling, reaching out too far to pick up an item causes more strain on the lower back than bending over and lifting it. Make sure employees receive regular training on how to prevent injuries.
Ergonomic issues and operational inefficiencies often go hand in hand. An investment in ergonomics is an investment in productivity and profitability. We’ve helped numerous companies run more efficiently, and we’d love to earn your business. Contact us online or by phone.
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Fresno (559) 834-9500
Sacramento (916) 376-0500
Salinas (831) 757-1091
How Forklift Operators Can Prevent Repetitive Use Injuries
Cal/OSHA Ergonomic Guidelines for Material Handling
TMH Turnkey Warehouse Solutions
Guide to Warehouse Safety