MHI Solutions - Volume 3, Issue 1 - (Page 61)
Ergonomic lifting Equipment
By JEAN FEINGOlD
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
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
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
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MHI Solutions - Volume 3, Issue 1
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
Promat 2015 MHI Executive Summit and Annual Conference
Index of Advertisers
MHI Solutions - Volume 3, Issue 1