Ergonomics in the manufacturing plant
Kevin Reiland, the product manager for Panasonic’s Assembly Tool Division, addressed the audience at the 2014 Assembly Show about the importance of ergonomic assembly tools in the manufacturing plant. Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment and having the right tools can go a long way in reducing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD), which are the biggest work-related injuries. The most causes of WRMDs include repetitive activities and forceful exertions and common injuries include carpel tunnel, arthritis, back pain, and hernias.
Reiland said that it is better for both the plant floor worker and the employer to have more ergonomic tools available. If a worker goes injured, there are immediate negative effects that come with the medical costs of an injury, (he estimated about $28,000 for the company) but also indirect negative effects. Those effects include paying for overtime, modifying jobs, any legal problems, replacing the injured worker, training the replacement, etc. Reiland said the indirect cost on an on-site injury costs an employer over $31,000. With a potential total cost of $59,000, Reiland said that it behooves an employer to offer ergonomic tools to its workers rather than endure these potential costs.
Reiland offered ways to improve the ergonomics of tools used on the assembly floor:
- Grip the object with your whole hand
- Have a straight wrist when you grip the tool
- Rotate jobs. This way there is less repetitive motion and workers also learn extra skills, making it easier to cover for an injured worker.
- Eliminate tools that don’t fit
- Put tools on a balancer if possible
Reiland closed his presentation explaining that jobs should be adapted to the people who work them and not the other way around.
– Anisa Samarxhiu, digital project manager, CFE Media, firstname.lastname@example.org
See additional stories on the 2014 Assembly Show below.