MHI Solutions - Volume 3, Issue 1 - (Page 61)

SAFER HANDlING Ergonomic lifting Equipment By JEAN FEINGOlD O ne of the more common tasks in material handling is people lifting objects. Historically this manual material handling has been done without assistance from lifting or positioning equipment. Unfortunately, encouraging workers to "lift correctly" has provided little measurable benefit in reducing the use of improper lifting procedures. Improper lifting can result in injuries, accidents and a loss in productivity. In fact, about 60 percent of all workmen's compensation claims are associated with manual material handling, noted Jim Galante, chairman of MHI's Ergonomic Assist Systems & Equipment (EASE) Council and director, business development, for MHI member Southworth Products Corp. The number of claims is growing. What is causing this increase? Galante attributes it to several factors. The workforce is aging rapidly. At least one-third of the U.S. population is now considered obese. Also there is increased pressure on workers to increase efficiency and productivity so firms can be competitive worldwide. The reshoring trend means many of these jobs are returning to the U.S. where there is a shortage of trained workers. All these factors can contribute to improper lifting and injuries. The importance of ergonomics "Those factors are all influenced by ergonomics," Galante said. "If you're going to have a lean manufacturing plant, you must have good ergonomics because ergonomic problems cause production bottlenecks." There is usually more than one way to solve a manual material handling problem, Galante notes. Many solutions involve using ergonomic lifting equipment. Several types are available. They include hoists, lift tables, balancers, manipulators, load levelers, turntables, conveyors and work positioners. If the worker wants to get something off the floor and into the correct lifting zone, which is mid-body, the proper equipment must be chosen. What equipment is best to use depends on the size of the "What equipment is best to use depends on the size of the object, how many times it must be lifted, how much it weighs and how high it must be lifted." object, how many times it must be lifted, how much it weighs and how high it must be lifted. A single device will not suit all situations. "Most ergonomists agree reaching out from the body is actually worse in some respects than bending over," Galante pointed out. "In lifting an item, you must consider where it is. Is it directly in front? How far away is it? Do I need to turn my body to get it? Twisting or turning the body, bending over and reaching out are all factors that affect the appropriate choice of equipment to reduce manual material handling hazards." Sometimes the best ergonomic choice is to eliminate the manual material handling task completely. Often companies with repetitive manual tasks look to automation to do those tasks instead of workers. "But in industry there is still a great deal of manual material handling going on because no machines exist that can do every task," noted Galante. "Many tasks cannot be effectively automated." Galante said approximately 50 percent of workmen's compensation claims involve the lower back, but back injuries are rarely caused by a single incident. They are typically cumulative trauma disorders resulting from repeatedly * MHI SolutIonS 61

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MHI Solutions - Volume 3, Issue 1

CEO Update
Total Supply Chain Visibilty
The Internet of Things
The Promise of the Physical Internet
Big Data’s Impact on Supply Chains
Industry Focus: The Aerospace Industry
Economic Market Analysis
Industry Trends
Fulfillment Update
Safer Handling
Solutions Spotlight
Roadmap Update
MHI News
Promat 2015 MHI Executive Summit and Annual Conference
Index of Advertisers

MHI Solutions - Volume 3, Issue 1