Among the most common causes of injuries in industrial settings is that workers' bodies just go through a lot of wear and tear over time, especially if they're asked to do the same tasks many times over in a single day. These are repetitive stress injuries, and they can be exacerbated if workers have to stretch, twist or strain in unnatural ways.
To address this issue, you may need to do more to increase the ergonomic ease of work in your manufacturing facility, and the following tips may help you do just that:
1) Talk to employees about what they struggle with
No one knows your factory like your employees, and talking to them about the difficulties they feel in completing their everyday tasks could help identify some sources of risk, according to Steiner Technologies. Even little things like persistent foot pains or feeling like they have to lift objects that are extremely heavy too frequently could help you find ergonomic solutions that help reduce employee injury risk.
2) Perform an analysis
Now that you know what employees say are the parts of their job that lead to aches and pains, it's time to look into why those issues are recurring, Steiner Technologies noted. It could be something as simple as storing highly used items on shelves that are too high, or not giving workers safety mats to work on and cushion their feet just a little bit more than they currently enjoy.
3) Train on best practices
Even as you're reducing ergonomic safety risk at a top level, you need to make sure your employees know the best ways to avoid injuries as well, according to Darcor Casters and Wheels. A little training about proper lifting and carrying techniques, tips to improve posture, ways to stretch and more can go a long way toward helping your employees sidestep some of the most common workplace injury risks they face.
4) Change the environment
Of course, once you've conducted the necessary assessments and trainings, it's time to implement the changes that reduce injury potential, Darcor added. That may mean rearranging where items are stored on shelves, but also the heights at which those shelves sit, where they're located, the level of surfaces where employees work and so on.
5) Provide new equipment
In some cases, all your changes and suggestions won't be enough to reduce risk if employees are consistently put in certain situations given your current environment, according to Safety By Design. In these cases, it may be necessary to invest in new equipment that may help reduce physical stress. Again, these can be as simple as floor mats to reduce wear and tear on their feet, but it may also be equipment that helps them transport heavy materials more easily.
Of course, every situation is unique and there's no one-size-fits-all approach to reducing this type of risk on an ongoing basis. With that in mind, you may need to vary your strategy and make sure it continually evolves along with your workers' needs or concerns.
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