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    Material Handling Ergonomics

    Improved Ergonomics May Reduce Injuries

    Annually, back injuries in the workplace cost American industry up to $14 billion in worker compensation costs and result in approximately 100 million lost workdays, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Furthermore, up to 30% of all worker's compensation claims deal with manual materials handling incidents, says Jim Galante, communication chairman for the Ergonomic Assist Systems and Equipment (EASE) Council of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA).

    With those statistics in mind, the Lift Manufacturer's Product Section (LMPS), a trade association of MHIA, has developed a checklist of ergonomic principles for manual handling tasks designed to help companies reduce the chance of worker injury. For more information, visit www.mhia.org/psc/PSC_Councils_Ergonomic.cfm

    Ergonomic Principles for Manual Handling Tasks

    Minimize Significant Body Motions

    1. Reduce Bending Motions
        Eliminate the need to bend by:
      • Using lift tables, work dispensers and similar mechanical aids
      • Raising the work level to an appropriate height
      • Raising or lowering the worker
      • Providing all material at work level
      • Keep materials at work level (e.g., don't lower anything to the floor that must be lifted later)
    2. Reduce Twisting Motions
        Eliminate the need to twist by:
      • Providing all materials and tools in front of the worker
      • Using conveyors, chutes, slides, lifts or turntables to change direction of material flow
      • Providing adjustable swivel chairs for seated workers
      • Providing significant workspace for the whole body to turn
      • Improving the layout of the work area
    3. Reduce Reaching-Out Motions
        Eliminate the need to reach by:
      • Providing tools and machine controls close to the worker to eliminate reaches over 16 inches
      • Place materials, workplaces and other heavy objects as close to the worker as possible
      • Reducing the size of cartons or pallets being loaded or allowing the worker to walk around them, rotate, raise or lower them
      • Reducing the size of the object being handled
      • Allowing the object to be kept close to the body (i.e. scissor lifts)

    Reduce Object Weights/Forces

    1. Reducing Lifting and Lowering Forces
        Eliminate the need to lift or lower manually by:
      • Using lift tables, lift trucks, cranes, hoists, balancers, industrial manipulators, drum and barrel dumpers, elevating conveyors and similar mechanical aids
      • Raising the work level, lowering the operator or using gravity dumps and chutes
        Reduce the weight of the object by:
      • Reducing the size of the object (specify size to suppliers)
      • Reducing the capacity of the containers and the size of the container itself
      • Reducing load in the containers (administrative controls)
      • Reducing the number of objects lifted or lowered at one time (administrative controls)
        Increase the weight of the object so that it must be handled mechanically:
      • the unit load concept (such as bins or containers, preferably with fold down sides rather than smaller totes and boxes)
      • Use palletized loads
        Reduce the hand distance by:
      • Changing the shape of the object
      • Providing the grips or handles
      • Providing better access to object (i.e. scissor lifts, turntables or tilters)
      • Improving layout of work area
    2. Reduce Pushing and Pulling Forces
        Eliminate the need to push or pull by:
      • Using power conveyors
      • Using powered trucks
      • Using powered scissor lifts or turntables
        Reduce the required force by:
      • Reducing the weight of the load
      • Using non-powered conveyors, air-bearings, ball caster tables, monorails and similar aids
      • Providing good maintenance of floor surfaces, hand trucks, etc
      • Treating surfaces to reduce friction
      • Using powered scissor lifts
        Reduce the distance of push or pull by:
      • Improving layout of work area
      • Relocating production or storage area
    3. Reduce Carrying Forces
        Eliminate the need to carry by converting to pushing or pulling:
      • Use conveyors, air bearings, ball caster tables, monorails, slides, chutes and similar aids
      • Use lift trucks, two-wheel hand trucks, four-wheel hand trucks, dollies and similar aids
        Reduce the weight of the object by:
      • Reducing the size of objects (specify size to suppliers)
      • Reducing the capacity of the containers
      • Reducing the weight of the container itself
      • Reducing the load in the container (administrative control)
        Reduce the distance by:
      • Improving the layout of the work area
      • Relocating production or storage areas

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P.O. Box 668
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Phone: 800-634-7704
Fax: 704-868-4205
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