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The Role of Ergonomics in the Industrial Workplace

Friday, February 12, 2010
By Anne Kramer

The most common industrial injuries include back strain, slip and fall injuries, and repetitive stress injuries in the arms and wrists. All of these are easily prevented with simple ergonomic interventions. By implementing industrial ergonomics, businesses reap several benefits:

  • Fewer injuries on the job
  • Reduced cost for disability and company insurance
  • Less time missed by employees due to injury
  • Higher productivity rates

Basic Guidelines for Industrial Ergonomics

Industrial workplaces present unique challenges because they often incorporate assembly lines, shared workstations, and heavy loads. Since these conditions are largely inherent to the industrial workplace, it is important for businesses to use proper precautions to protect their employees from workplace injury.

  • To prevent slip and fall accidents, anti-fatigue mats provide extra traction. They also pad the floor, preventing leg and back fatigue for employees who stand for long periods. If the edges of anti-fatigue mats present a tripping hazard, employees can strap ErgoMates to their shoes, for extra traction wherever they go.
  • Ergonomic Footrests further relieve strain on the legs and feet. Employees who stand for long periods can alternate their weight, resting the muscles in each leg. Heavy-duty models are designed specifically for industrial workplaces, so they can be adjusted to multiple heights for different workers.
  • If possible, employees should be able to switch between sitting and standing. The added height of teller stools generally makes these stools an excellent option for standing workstations that are common in industrial settings.
  • Because many industrial workplaces require employees to share workstations, it is important that each employee be able to customize the height of the work surface. Adjustable tables provide an easy means for each employee to customize the workstation height.
  • Employees should learn and practice proper lifting habits. An expert can conduct an in-house ergonomic workshop to demonstrate the best way to handle heavy loads without incurring back injuries.
  • To supplement proper lifting habits, carts and hand trucks significantly reduce the risk of back injuries caused by heavy lifting.
  • Workers can prevent injuries to the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hands by using forearm supports. Some adjustable models attach permanently to the table, while foam wedge rests can easily be moved to any workstation.

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