The concept of studying the relationship between a human body and the workplace has been around for a long time. However, it was not only until recently that the importance of ergonomics has gained enough attention for management teams actually to start treating it as a necessity in the workplace.
What is Ergonomics?
Defined as the application of certain principles to the design and arrangement of workplaces, products and systems to better fit a user’s need, ergonomics aims to increase worker efficiency and productivity. These designs are made to have positive physiological and psychological effects on the user. They are built to minimize the risk of any injury or harm.
To people who have studied or worked in warehousing operations, there is a definite relationship between ergonomics and worker’s productivity. Across the United States, for example, there are approximately 700,000 workers in the warehousing industry performing a wide variety of tasks.
And in 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the country’s warehousing and storage subsector reported a total rate of at least 5.1 injuries per 100 full-time employees. Serious injuries occurred at a rate of 3.7 injuries per 100 workers. That’s an exceptionally high injury rate for an industry.
Improving warehouse economics can reduce these risks and can protect both employees and the company. There are a number of ways for management and engineers to achieve ergonomics in the warehouse. Warehouse and storage managers play a big role in successfully employing ergonomics in the warehouse. Similarly, engineers often design the placement of items and develop the warehouse’s standard operating procedures.
These people play a huge role in warehouse design ergonomics, from small details like where to place the shadow board recently bought online to general decisions like the floor layout and where certain boxes will be assigned.
1. Proper Training Strategies Should Be Put in Place
One of the keys to maximizing worker efficiency and productivity in the workplace is by ensuring that workers get the applicable training to do better at their jobs. They should be trained and retrained on safety protocols regularly to reduce injuries and minimize days away from work (DAFW).
2. Encourage Early Reports of Injury, Investigate Causes and Implement Interventions
Managers and engineers should learn from past injuries. A system for recording and reporting accidents should be in place. This includes trips and falls, minor cuts, serious cases of illnesses, and so on. The goal of this process is for managers to identify risks and accident trends, diagnose and implement changes to avoid the same hazards from occurring again.
3. Emphasize the importance of worker well-being
Warehouse workers should be given some time to relax and catch their breath. These mini breaks are a crucial element to an effective warehouse ergonomic program. Managers should make certain their workers also understand the importance of stepping back from duties and doing slow, elongated stretches at set periods throughout the day.
Before running out and spending a fortune on ergonomic fixtures, management can consider these guides to implement ergonomics in the warehouse successfully. Ensuring that every individual worker gets the proper training and retraining alone should eliminate some of the major causes of injuries reported.