Make Your Shop More Ergonomically Correct

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Equipment Maintenance and Repair

You can do your techs a solid by examining some of the physical requirements inherent in their procedures and applying better ergonomics.

Even though you don’t have the resources of Caterpillar, you can still do your techs a solid by examining some of the physical requirements inherent in their procedures and applying better ergonomics.

It could be as simple as providing a cart or a modified chair.

Processes that include awkward postures can lead to an increased risk of ergonomic injury, decreased employee engagement, and a reduction in productivity, Caterpillar says.

The company recognized some areas for improvement in its assembly processes at the generator plant in Piracicaba, Brazil.

So Cat convened a team of leaders from the Environment, Health & Safety, Manufacturing Engineering, Logistics Planning, and Production areas to evaluate the ergonomic risk of the assembly process, particularly focused on awkward postures.

The team conducted a Safety Failure Mode and Effects Analysis of 88 standard work procedures and identified 43 ergonomic risks related to awkward postures. Each of these was further assessed using Caterpillar’s standard ergonomic assessment tools for prioritization, with 17 work procedures prioritized for mitigation.

The solutions for these 17 work procedures ranged from simple changes in procedure to complex solutions for improvements.

Now, steps that previously required an extended crouched or bent position are completed on a platform in a seated position; a permanent cart was manufactured to eliminate the need for an employee to perform a repeated bending task; and the shop floor layout was redesigned to include a conveyor for transporting parts with plenty of employee access, eliminating a manual operation.

With the successful mitigation of these high-priority ergonomic risks, the team at Piracicaba has now turned to medium-priority ergonomic risks.

It’s not likely to be as formal a program in your shop, but a little attention might go a long way toward healthier, more productive technicians.