Pacific Ergonomics, Inc. provides industrial ergonomic assessments in San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles. Our trained professional consultants are Certified Industrial ergonomists who identify risk factors and develop solutions to decrease risk. Our professional industrial ergonomists use best of class ergonomic assessment tools (i.e. RULA, REBA, NIOSH lifting, Snook and others) to quantify risk, prioritize risk, and help with business decisions on what actions need to be taken.
Pacific Ergonomics provides industrial assessments for labs, manufacturing, bio-tech, retail, service jobs, hospitality and laboratories.
What Problems Are You Trying to Achieve?
- Are employees complaining of discomfort, do you have increased sick days or injuries?
- Have Workers Comp claims spiked in a specific area and you don’t know why?
- Are you wanting to upgrade equipment, but you don’t know what will have the biggest impact on reducing risk?
- Need a risk exposure analysis?
Option 1: Individual Industrial Assessments
This type of industrial assessment is designed for an individual employee in discomfort or a Return from Work:
- Identify risk factors specific to an individual who is working in an industrial setting.
- Provide coaching, guidance, and training on strategies to improve comfort and decrease risk.
- Written documentation of observed risks and recommendations for a specific individual.
Option 2: Industrial Assessments By Job Type to Determine Risks and Specific Solutions
For a group of people who are involved in a sequence of tasks related to complete a specific production. The concept is in industrial ergonomics is you want the task to be able to be safely performed by employees of different heights, sizes, and weights. This type of assessment evaluates the process, the system and uncovers risks that all employees could be exposed to with recommendations that could help all employees.
Overview of this process:
Identify the steps of each production process, measure the risk, and determine where the high and low-risk activities are.
- Recommendations are made to help improve the job task for all employees, not specific to one individual.
- Our industrial ergonomists video each task that is done, and each step of that task.
- Video is analyzed back at the lab to measure awkward postures, repetitive motions, force, lifting. This is a time-consuming process, but one that is very valuable in quantifying risk.
- Reports include risk scores, identification of high-risk behaviors, quick fixes that are low cost/high impact and strategies that can be incorporated for training, job conditioning, stretching and more.
- Once we determine the risk factors, our industrial ergonomists can provide specific solutions, research products through various manufactures and be involved in meetings with engineering to determine feasibility and action items.
Option 3: Observational Industrial Analysis to Identify High-Level Risks and Provide High-Level Solutions
Some companies want to save money and prefer to have an observational analysis. This can be effective in determining very obvious risk factors and provide high-level recommendations for a specific production area. This type of analysis and report does not score risks and is based on the observation done at the time of the analysis versus reviewing the video.
Observational can be effective in finding high-level problems and high-level solutions:
- Equipment that is too low/high for employees and should be height adjustable
- Awkward postures such as lifting items over the shoulders or bending down
- Reaches that are too far away, or processes that are increasing risk.
What can not be evaluated by observation only:
-The rate of time and/or duration that an award posture has on overall risk.
-Determining and quantifying which step of the process has the highest risk, specifically for areas where there is a lot of hand and finger work.
-Having a clear list of action items based on the risk score.
-Being able to quantify the ROI of proposed solutions relative to the risk
-Many risk factors are uncovered by evaluating the video in slow motion. This is missed when only doing an observational analysis.
The Importance of Taking Action After Receiving the Industrial Assessment Recommendations
The most common challenge with industrial assessments is following through with implementing the solutions. Clear action items should be determined with who is responsible, who will approve capital expenditures and what the timing is. Industrial assessments identifying risks with solutions do not help unless action is taken.
- Assign who will be responsible for purchasing new equipment, working with engineering, and who will call product manufactures if there are questions of the equipment.
- Who will be responsible for the project management, will it be Pacific Ergonomics or an internal employee
- Determine a timeline of when the solution will be put in place and stick to it
- Work on the high risk/low cost areas first as these typically can be implemented in little time and for less cost
- Once the solutions have been put in place, measure and revalidate! (it is critically important to reassess the risk decrease that was created and ensure that additional risk wasn’t exposed)
Examples of Problems in Industrial Settings:
Leaning Over, Stooping
Bent back, neck deviation
The work surface is too low for these individuals.
Head bowed down & neck flexed
Repetitive tasks with awkward postures create the risk of discomfort and injury.
Reaching Too Far with Awkward Back Postures
There is No Place to Rest the Feet
The employee is sitting too far from the work area and has to reach forward. Notice also the twisted backs and the hips and shoulders are not aligned. The work surface is too low for this individual to comfortably stand at this workstation. However, the lack of legroom under the fume cupboard means that he sits with a twisted back when facing his work.
- Eliminate unnecessary lifting
- Eliminate, automate or mechanize lifting with hoists and cranes
- Modify the job to fit within worker capabilities
- Allow for lifting loads as close to the body as
Reducing Reach Tips:
1. Eliminate any barriers that are requiring an extended reach
2. Use a turntable for loads on pallets
3. Use a tilt table to allow for better access into bins
4, Place the load as close to waist height as possible.
5. Reduce twisting by moving the feet and by aligning the beginning and the endpoints of the lift
Force-Lifting, Lowering and Carrying Tips:
Force is the effort required to lift, lower or carry an object. There can also be force on any part of your body and it doesn’t always relate to lifting. One type of force comes from pushing, pulling, or lifting objects that are too heavy for too long of a time period, without the correct posture.
- Lift within the safety zone- elbow to knuckle height
- Use proper lifting techniques
- Use grips on as many things possible that you are lifting
- Use mechanical aids to help with lifting when possible
- Shorten the time needed to carry a lifted item from one point to another (use carts and other devices)
- Do not lift items from the floor or from areas above the shoulders
- Utilize technology like mechanical lifters, and vacumn lifts where appropriate
- Avoid carrying wide load and always use both hands
- 75lbs a day is a heavy lift
- 55 lbs, 10 times a day is a heavy lift
- 10 lbs twice a minute, two hours a day is a frequent lift
- 25lbs above the shoulders or below the knees or at arm’s length 25 times a day is an awkward lift
Force- Pushing and Pulling Tips:
Prevent injuries that are created from pushing or pulling with the following guidelines.
- Use the correct casters on items that are being pushed or pulled depending on the surface and the distance.
- If there is a choice, always push rather than pull, as pushing leverages the strong back and leg muscles and is less strain
- Reduce the distance that is needed to pull or pull
- Service and casters regularly as they wear out, which makes it more difficult to push or pull
- Good housekeeping on the floors
- Automated carts are ideal where appropriate for repetitive pushing or pulling. For example, a powered lift truck can make it easier to transport heavy loads without strain.
Contact Stress Tips:
Contact stress is when there is physical contact that restricts the blood flow as a result of pushing on an object.
- Don’t lean on the edge of the work surface
- Use padding where appropriate
- Use tools with handles that are soft and do not create contact stress
- Arms rest in certain situations or padded knee pads are examples of quick solutions that can be used
- Gloves can be used to reduce certain types of contact stress
Handling Tool Tips:
The tools that are used have to work well for employees of different sizes and hands.
- Use well-designed tools that have handles designed to improve grip
- Maintain and service tools
- Pad or adapt handles that have deep groves to be more comfortable
- Handles should extend beyond the hand at least 120 mm.
- Avoid tools with ridges, edges or rough surfaces
- Spring-loaded handles reduce forces and how long it takes to open it up
Repetition refers to doing the same activity, using the same postures, over and over. With enough repetition, the muscles can not recover which can lead to discomfort and injury.
- Rotate tasks performing work that uses different muscles
- Ensure that postures are correct for all repetitive tasks (repetitive tasks with awkward postures heightens the risk exponentially)
- Empower the worker to control the pace and allow from regular rest breaks
- Add other duties to a job that has a lot of repetitive tasks that use other muscles to allow recovery
- Have a job conditioning program that enables employees to work up to certain tasks
- Train on how to properly perform jobs
Call for a free consultation to see how we can help achieve your goals. 619-546-0872