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Manufacturing Ergonomics: Designing Injury-Resistant Workstations

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workplace safety

We hear a lot about the importance of safety training and ergonomics in the workplace today. Protecting workers from harm should be the number one priority--especially in manufacturing--where repetitive motions and heavy lifting can put workers in danger. In these settings, it’s important to ensure they have the tools necessary to protect themselves from Musculoskeletal Disorders, like a pinched nerve, muscle tear, herniated disc, or other strain.

The Importance of Ergonomics

When workstations are built without ergonomics in mind, injury becomes a real threat.  In the manufacturing industry, workstations must be designed with the operator in mind. This means that they should promote natural movements: movements that make it easy for workers to perform the task at hand.  The end goal is to place the least possible stress on limbs and muscles. When done correctly, well-designed stations help managers achieve safety goals.

So, how can you set your work stations and workers up for ergonomic success?

Solution 1: Teach Proper Posture 

From standing up straight and using the appropriate muscles to lift heavy objects, to sitting in a chair correctly for prolonged periods of time - there are many ways that proper posture can help keep workers safe from risk. 

Correcting posture problems means training staff to

  • Sit up straight and put both feet on the ground.
  • Keep a neural form during whatever task they’re performing.

It also means doing on-site inspections of the shop floor to confirm the rules are being followed correctly.

Solution 2: Offer Appropriate Accommodations 

To achieve fluid, human motions, things like adjustable arms might be added or other height adjustments might be offered for a work station, to accommodate varying user heights. Once the worker is made level with their station, it is then necessary to position their machine the right way. 

After all, designing ergonomic work stations that lend themselves to correct postures is key.

A workstation that’s correctly designed and that offers additional accessories and tools that are easy to use, means less unnatural or awkward motions will be needed - further reducing the chances of developing a strain.

The Importance of Proper Machine Positioning

Machine positioning should also be considered when building operator workstations.  The most ergonomically sound work stations are designed to maximize proper posture, reduce awkward movements, and maximize productivity.

For example, if a worker must sit at a conveyor line to complete a task, and their legs don’t fit comfortably underneath it, they might cram them in an awkward position for the day; or, if the work surface is too high, a worker might spend the day performing tasks with their shoulders lifted and elbows at incorrect angles. Over time, these motions can turn into a larger issue.

As an added benefit, better posture has shown improvements in overall productivity as more fluid and simple movements can speed up production times and overall job satisfaction.

mk North America delivers solutions to workplaces across a variety of industries, including those that deal in material handling and that use conveyors. We understand that durable, versatile aluminum extrusions and fully customizable stations that can accommodate any and all ergonomic concerns, is key in these workplaces. To that end, we also offer additional accessories like keyboard pullouts, file drawers, hydraulic lifts, and cable management tools. Use the form below to get in touch and learn more.

 


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