Manufacturing Ergonomics

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Identifying risks and preventing work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) requires a careful review of the following risk factors:

  • Force: the strength to perform a task.
  • Repetition: the frequency or number of times a task is performed during a shift.
  • Posture: positioning of the body to perform a task.
  • Vibration: which might come from overuse of power hand tools.
  • Temperature: extreme temperatures may be more harmful to the body.
  • Duration: the amount of time in a workday spent performing work tasks.

The more successful you are at eliminating or lessening risks, the more successful you’ll be at preventing injuries.The following steps should be taken to identify such risks:

  1. Find out which jobs, if any, may be causing problems.
    • Look around your workplace, talking to employees, and learning the early warning signs. Things to look for include employee discomfort or fatigue, employees modifying tools or equipment, poor product quality, or employee reports of problems.
    • Perform Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs) to systematically review the machines and work stations in your facility to help you decide which areas to focus on first.
    • Review loss runs, the OSHA 300 log and completed accident reports. This can help you prioritize the list of machines or work stations that you want to review.
  2. Look at the specific tasks that make up the jobs previously identified.
    • Determine how frequently it occurs (one time per shift or twenty times per hour)
    • Review the degree of difficulty (from the employee’s point of view).
  3. Observe the work tasks. Special attention should be paid to the above list of risk factors associated with the job task. The higher the number of risk factors associated with a job, the greater the chance that a WMSD might develop. Talking to the employees who perform the work can often provide valuable information about how the work task may be improved.
  4. Once you have identified the risk factors, you need to determine what action can be taken to eliminate or lessen the risks.
    • Can you eliminate or lessen the risk through design or engineering changes?
    • Can you lessen the force or repetitions or improve the worker’s posture?
    • Can you use job rotations to lessen the duration?
    • Finally consider personal protective equipment (PPE) for protecting workers.

KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.