If you work on the manufacturing floor, you are likely to experience sprains, strains, and back pain at some point in your career. Day-to-day work tasks and environmental stressors such as equipment vibration, twisting and bending, repetitive motions, and strenuous materials handling can gradually build up wear and tear in workers' bodies. This results in cumulative trauma disorders and MSK injuries that plague manufacturing workers with chronic pain.
MSK injuries are significant contributors to manufacturing workers' disabilities and sick days. Injured workers may try to "muddle through" their workday, while others will need time off from work to recuperate. Either way, your workforce productivity is affected by impaired employees who can't capably perform their duties and may leave the job for health reasons.
Enhance Workforce Safety and Retention with Ergonomic Processes
With skilled, experienced manufacturing workers hard to come by, it's a smart strategy to keep your employees healthy, fully productive, and on the job. A focus on workplace safety can help you retain valuable workers already familiar with your company's policies and work procedures. And keeping production lines completely staffed and operational can positively impact the company's profitability.
Manufacturers often use ergonomics principles to create and maintain user-friendly work environments that lower the risks of employees getting hurt. Ergonomics is the science of designing the position to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker's body to adjust to the job. When tasks or the work environment are ergonomically modified to suit their capabilities, workers can safely and consistently perform their work duties.
Regular Ergonomic Assessments are Key to Prevention
Implementing ergonomic processes and best practices shouldn't be a standalone effort but part of a company's overall commitment to employee wellbeing. This commitment involves finding and fixing all environmental and workplace hazards before they cause health or safety problems. Ergonomic programs can help you identify and eliminate those injury risk factors and physical activities that contribute to MSD's and have a cumulatively harmful impact on employees' bodies.
A well-designed and executed plan based on ergonomic best practices can create a healthier work environment where people can perform their jobs without discomfort. This plan should be crafted with established goals, commitment and resources from senior management, and involvement from both supervisors and workers. Guidance from ergonomics experts and training on ergonomic processes is also essential.
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Simple, low-cost solutions are often available to solve workplace ergonomic issues. These include modifying existing equipment or job activities and purchasing new tools or other devices to ease work processes. For example, lifting aids can relieve people from frequent heavy lifting, and power hand tools can reduce repetitive motions that cause carpal tunnel syndrome. Carts and conveyors can minimize the full-body strain of manual materials handling.
Employees can also avoid injuries by adopting safer ways to perform job duties. Examples include using proper lifting techniques to avoid back strain or eliminating unnecessary movements to make the job easier to perform. A qualified ergonomics therapist can provide on-the-job coaching to ensure everyone embraces safer work habits.