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Ergonomics

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders cost U.S. companies billions of dollars every year. Better ergonomics can prevent these costly, painful injuries. Learn more here.

Topics

  • Wire and Cable Inventory Management for Cut-to-Length Distributors

    There was a time, early in the advent of cut-to-length wire distribution, when you couldn’t enter an electrical warehouse without hearing that familiar call: “How much wire is left on that reel?” Cut-to-length imparts tremendous value to electrical contractors, but it introduces logistical headaches to distributors. Rather than purchase a whole reel, contractors ask only for what they need to... Continue Reading
  • Optimizing Inventory Levels in Retail: The Role of Material Handling

    Matching inventory to demand is always a challenge in retail. Too much, and you hemorrhage money in storage and handling costs. Too little, and you miss out on make-or-break opportunities. The trouble is, an optimal inventory level is always a moving target. As we write this, there seems to be some anxiety regarding retail inventory at the national level. The... Continue Reading
  • Three Parts of an Effective Workplace Safety Program, According to OSHA

    How effective is your existing workplace safety program? According to statistics from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. businesses are headed in the right direction. The incidence rate of workplace injuries and illnesses was 10.9 per 100 in 1972; by 2017, it had plummeted to 2.8 per 100 workers. In 1970, 38 workers lost their lives to occupational hazards... Continue Reading
  • Why You Should Always Keep Electrical Materials Off the Floor

    During the course of a long, complex electrical installation, the fastest, easiest way to store tools and building materials is to pile them up on the floor. It may be messy, but you can’t argue with the efficiency…or can you? In fact, stacks of conduit, connectors, circuit breakers, light fixtures, and other electrical products may do more harm than you... Continue Reading
  • How Material Handling Containers Make the Retail Industry Safer (And More Efficient)

    For retailers, nothing’s quite as important as efficiency. However, when trying to improve productivity, retailers often focus on improving training and sales tech — without considering the obvious impact that high-quality material handling containers can have on their bottom line. Material handling containers are essentially a much-needed upgrade to cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and other holdovers from the pre-digital era.... Continue Reading
  • Safety at the Electrical Supply Warehouse

    We spend a lot of time discussing electrical safety at the jobsite, in the home, and even in schools. But what about safety programs for the workers who make electrical systems possible? Long before electricians begin to observe their strict lockout/tagout protocols or double-check the NEC, the electrical-material supply chain is hard at work, manufacturing, storing, shipping, and distributing the... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics for Electrical Workers

    Some electricians deride the term “ergonomics” as a meaningless buzzword, pointing out that marketers use it to describe everything from wire strippers to work boots. Other electrical contractors are always up to their elbows in the latest biomechanical research, looking for ways to save their lower backs. Either way, the fact is that ergonomics can help create a safer, more... Continue Reading
  • Balancing Wellness and Efficiency in the Physical Plant

    Physical plant managers at universities must maintain an efficient workforce, but that can’t be accomplished without adequate wellness programs that also keep workers healthy. In that sense, the university physical plant department occupies a meeting point between the principles of both hard and soft facilities management. Managers must consider infrastructure, equipment, and the valuable employees who use that equipment to keep facilities clean and well-maintained. On the productivity side, injured workers can’t do their jobs. From the human perspective, jobs should never contribute to illness or injury. Improving workplace ergonomics accomplishes both goals, and often at a limited cost to employers. That’s why the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA), the state’s occupational health program, published a pamphlet... Continue Reading
  • LED Retrofit Tips for Electricians

    There’s no quicker way to save on electricity costs at a commercial or industrial building than springing for a total LED retrofit job. There are plenty of great reasons to switch to LED; they can use up to 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting. They also last 25 times longer. That’s all according to  U.S. Department of Energy. These... Continue Reading
  • Material Handling in the Wire and Cable Manufacturing Industry

    Wire and cable manufacturers carry a heavy burden; if they fail to fill their customers’ just-in-time orders, those customers might have to shut down entire production lines until the vital components come in. Understandably, cable providers will do just about anything to fill their orders reliably. But that leads right into another problem. If a cable manufacturer overproduces, they’ll be... Continue Reading
  • Choosing Material Handling Equipment for Manufacturing Facilities

    When manufacturers look for inefficiencies to address, they often focus on the production line itself. Can automation improve operations? New manufacturing processes? Different staffing strategies? In fact, these strategies make up only a portion of efficient operation in the manufacturing industry. Material handling — getting raw materials to the lines, moving components between one station and the next, and eventually... Continue Reading
  • Warehouse Employee Retention Beyond Wages

    Warehousing operations often struggle with employee retention. Since August of 2017, separations — quits, terminations, and layoffs — grew by 26,000 jobs in the warehousing industry. During the same period, the quit rate for all industries remained fairly stable, hovering around 2.4 percent. What is it that drives employees to leave warehousing jobs more than positions in other industries? More... Continue Reading
  • Eliminate Supply Chain Bottlenecks at Distribution Centers

    Supply chain bottlenecks can slam the brakes on a booming economy, say economic analysts. Currently, market capacity is limited by a shortage in labor; there simply aren’t enough truck drivers on the road to move goods in sufficient quantity. However, the shipping industry is responding. Trucking firms are offering pay hikes and hiring bonuses in an effort to attract new... Continue Reading
  • Construction Ergonomics: Safety Solutions for Overhead Work

    The right construction ergonomics program can prevent costly injuries, improve staff morale, and boost productivity. But different tasks create different ergonomic risks. Workers who spend most of the shift with arms raised and necks tilted back — while installing conduit, ducting, or overhead lighting, for instance — may develop any number of musculoskeletal disorders. Here are a few tips for... Continue Reading
  • The Electrician’s Guide to Careers in Construction Month

    October is Careers in Construction Month, a yearly promotion led by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The event is meant to spread awareness about construction trades, including electricians — a worthwhile effort, given this age of labor shortages in the construction trades. So how can construction electricians participate in this industry event? Here are just a few ideas... Continue Reading
  • Electricians and Musculoskeletal Disorders: Common Symptoms and Prevention Tips

    For electricians, musculoskeletal disorders remain a serious occupational hazard. Electrical installation teams aren’t alone with this risk; workers in most construction trades face a higher risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders than those in other industries. Between 1992 and 2014, the rate of occupation-based musculoskeletal disorders remained higher in the construction industry than in all combined industries. This disproportionate rate of... Continue Reading
  • Building a Culture of Electrical Safety in the Construction Industry

    Electrical safety in the construction industry has been studied, argued over, and refined since Thomas Edison started burying copper wires beneath the streets of Manhattan in 1882. From the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — which publishes NFPA 70, otherwise known as the National Electrical Code (NEC) — to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), all sorts of safety organization offer important insights into electrical safety. No matter how well a construction electrician understands the NEC or OSHA regulations, though, the key to keeping every employee safe on every jobsite is to build a culture of safety into every workplace task — especially for those who install electrical systems. Safety cultures start at the top. Everyone in a leadership... Continue Reading
  • Preparing the Shipping/Receiving Area for DC Peak Season

    The holiday peak season for distribution centers encompasses both shipping and receiving, making this area a potential efficiency bottleneck. Every DC manager needs a plan for scaling up outbound orders while simultaneously processing returns. The good news is that the elements of this plan don’t need to be expensive or difficult. We’ve already looked at a few strategies for preparing... Continue Reading
  • Preparing the Forklift Battery Room for DC Peak Season

    Every retailer has a peak season, and distribution centers are no different. Certainly, the peak can differ between one outlet and another — an office-supply store may experience peak season during the final days of the summer, when parents stock up for back-to-school season, while most general ecommerce DCs brace for the winter holidays. Whenever peak-to-average order ratios soar, it’s... Continue Reading
  • Making the Most of Automotive Plant Shutdown

    Automakers and other manufacturers use summer shutdowns to perform vital tasks to keep operations running smoothly. While these lulls in output can be expensive — after all, factories are not only stopping production but spending big money on improvements — they can also increase productivity. And when management takes time to carefully plan a plant turnaround, they can reap even... Continue Reading
  • Alternatives to Going Forklift-Free at Automotive Manufacturing Facilities

    Automotive manufacturing facilities have long been at the forefront of lean manufacturing — after all, the practice was born out of Toyota’s process of continual improvement, or kaizen. But unlike some other sectors, many auto manufacturers are choosing not to go forklift-free to achieve their goals. That’s because automakers have discovered how to become leaner without sacrificing the muscle of... Continue Reading
  • OSHA Standards for Sheet Metal Storage at Shops and Warehouses

    Sheet metal isn’t always the simplest material to work with, but choosing the right type of storage can set you up for a safer, more successful material handling environment at the shop or warehouse. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) hasn’t written a regulation that refers to sheet metal storage in specific, the standards do offer clues. Here... Continue Reading
  • Sheet Metal Handling at the Jobsite

    Sheet metal handling entails major ergonomic risks when appropriate precautions are not taken. Working in extreme temperatures, placing continuous pressure on the hands, lifting parts with awkward shapes and sizes, and strenuous working positions are all common ergonomic risks on a job site. To protect against these hazards, here are some important tips from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Service. Take a... Continue Reading
  • Retaining Warehouse Staff with Ergonomic Equipment

    Hiring and retaining warehouse staff could be the next big challenge facing the logistics industry as a whole. And while you might have read a lot about the ongoing scarcity of truck drivers, the entire supply chain, from start to finish, is starting to compete for the best workers to stay ahead of the curve. These new conditions could hit... Continue Reading
  • Customize Shipping Room Desks to Optimize Shipping/Receiving Tasks

    Workstations make a difference, and standard, off-the-shelf shipping room desks could be cutting into your productivity in more ways than one. People think of ergonomic improvements in the workplace as benefitting the employees. While that’s undeniably true, that doesn’t mean that employers don’t benefit as well—and we’re not just talking about reductions in sick days and injuries. By eliminating the... Continue Reading
  • Prepare Seasonal Warehouse Workers for Success

    Seasonal warehouse workers give distribution centers the extra capacity that they need to take on the busy holiday season — and it’s only getting busier. Last year, online sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 reached a total of $91.7 billion, more than 10 percent higher than the previous year. Search marketing firm NetElixer projects an increase of another 10... Continue Reading
  • How Warehouse Ergonomics Can Help You Cope with Labor Shortages

    The logistics and warehousing industries are facing substantial labor shortages. A 2015 study presented at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) conference showed issues with labor availability throughout the sectors; however, the CSCMP’s 2018 survey noted that the vast majority of 3PL professionals agreed upon an increased need “to respond to customers more quickly and with complete, accurate,... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomic Hazards in the Forklift Battery Room: Problems and Solutions

    Addressing major hazards in the battery room like fires, explosions, and acid burns can lead some managers to neglect the smaller ergonomic issues. Unfortunately, these small issues can also become big problems when left unaddressed. Luckily, common-sense precautions allow battery-room managers to protect employees from both kinds of risk. Here are some straightforward ways to address recurrent ergonomic issues in... Continue Reading
  • Material Handling Ergonomics: Using the “Golden Zone” for Safer Lifting

    Warehouse managers often focus on equipment solutions to ergonomics issues. And while there’s good reason to invest in assistive lifting equipment, there are cheaper and easier ways to get big returns. The number one way? Teach workers to lift in the ergonomic “golden zone.” The Dangers of Poor Lifting Technique The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2015,... Continue Reading
  • How Better Warehouse Ergonomics Improves Productivity

    In the not-so-distant past, managers viewed warehouse ergonomics as mostly a matter of worker comfort—it was a nice thing to provide, but not a necessity. And while comfort is certainly one element of ergonomics, it is just one of many benefits of safer and more efficient processes. A more essential and frequently overlooked advantage to good ergonomics is improved productivity.... Continue Reading
  • Warehouse Ergonomics: Order Picking and Pallet Building Safety Tips

    October is National Ergonomics Month, and in honor of this yearly reminder to match “the work to the worker,” we’re reviewing two of the most common tasks in the distribution warehouse: order picking and pallet building. Both of these jobs traditionally contribute to the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as strains, sprains, and pulled muscles. The reasons for this are... Continue Reading
  • 4 Common Ergonomic Hazards in Warehouses

    Injuries have a big impact on warehouse productivity and profitability, and every warehouse could stand to address common safety hazards. The good news is that warehouse managers can reduce the chance of an on-the-job injury by identifying the most common injury risks and addressing them with training or ergonomic equipment. Safety committees can help identify major risks for your operation.... Continue Reading
  • Improving Manure Management for a Safer “Manure Share”

    Manure management has always been a problem for farmers. A little bit of nature’s fertilizer is a wonderful thing. When it accumulates in large stockpiles, though, the natural byproduct of munching cows can pollute the waterways and poison the air. Recently, farmers have introduced a novel way to distribute the 335 million tons of manure that America’s agricultural animals produce... Continue Reading
  • How Pallets Changed the Global Logistics Industry

    In a very real way, the simple wooden pallet was the spark that ignited the entire global economy as we know it. Before the advent of pallets during World War II, shipments consisted of awkward piles of boxes, barrels, canisters, and loose product. Warehouse staff would pack trucks any way they could. The process was inefficient in terms of both... Continue Reading
  • Warehousing Pallet Options: What to Know

    Material handling continues to evolve as new technologies emerge, but the humble pallet remains a constant fixture in warehouses around the world. That’s not to say that pallets haven’t changed over the years. Due to specific industry needs and the desire to be sustainable, companies have developed a number of new strategies in regards to pallets, which standardized just about... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics and Pallet Building: Problems and Solutions

    Rising worker’s compensation claims and an aging workforce responsible for pallet building tasks are causing warehouse managers to rethink their processes. Add in the fact that industry experts project the use of pallets to increase through 2019, and you can see why it’s necessary to reevaluate the pallet building and unloading process. Even if warehouse managers didn’t care about productivity... Continue Reading
  • Material Storage and Handling for Bagged and Bundled Components

    Working with bagged or bundled components requires unique precautions to protect against injuries. Shifting weight and awkward dimensions are two of the many tricky variables associated with these materials. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has a helpful publication that addresses many of the common pitfalls of material handling. From a thorough reading of this document, we can recommend a... Continue Reading
  • Industrial Racks for Landscaping Materials: The Ergonomic Benefits

    Landscaping is a growing field, and that’s not just a grass pun. In 2016, the IBIS World Market Report listed an annual growth of 3.9 percent for the landscape services industry. Landscaping already employed nearly 1 million people in the U.S. that year; it wouldn’t be surprising if we surpassed the 1 million mark in 2017. That’s a lot of... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomic Solutions for Electrical Contractors

    The risk of shock isn’t the only occupational hazard that electrical contractors face on a daily basis. Like many construction trades, electrical work is full of ergonomic hazards that can cause serious injuries. Spools of wire, bundles of conduit, and tools themselves can cause significant stress on muscles when workers try to lift them. In fact, the Occupational Safety and... Continue Reading
  • Warehouse Equipment Checklist for Omnichannel Retailers

    Sooner or later, most small and medium-sized retail operations will need to enter the online space to continue growing. For traditional brick-and-mortar stores, this can be a daunting project. Once your operation grows to a certain size, you’ll have to run your own warehouse, big or small, to fill orders. Very few entrepreneurs happen to double as material handling professionals.... Continue Reading
  • The Easiest Way to Carry Drywall at Construction Sites

    Ergonomics in the construction industry has come a long way, but there are still materials that present particular handling challenges. Large panels are among the most difficult to transport and install; there’s simply no easy way to grasp them. At least with windows and other plates of glass, you can use a vacuum lift. Moving drywall is another story. Even... Continue Reading
  • How Tilt Tables Improve Ergonomics for Order Packing

    Perfecting ergonomics is a never-ending challenge, especially in material handling applications. You may have your Shipping/Receiving Desks set up perfectly for your staff, with corners cut to reduce reaching. You might even provide Lift Tables to adjust the height of certain work tasks. But what happens when a client changes package sizes on you? As the size and placement of... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomic Safety Standards for Manual Material Handling: A Global Phenomenon

    The United States is unique among industrialized nations in its approach to ergonomics legislation. Many employers abroad are legally compelled to protect workers from the risks of injury associated with manual material handling. Although, in the U.S., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is left to correct the most egregious ergonomic violations with the General Duty Clause of the... Continue Reading
  • Creating A Proactive Ergonomics Action Plan for Safer Material Handling

    Why should you care about ergonomics? Worker’s compensation claims are likely a major expense for your facility, and even if you’re running a relatively small operation, you’ll eventually face an on-the-job injury caused by repetitive stress. This is bad for the worker, the facility, and the quality of the product, which is why ergonomic material handling should be a primary... Continue Reading
  • Customize Lift Tables for Any Task With Tabletop Attachments

    A Lift Table from BHS may be the most versatile piece of material handling equipment in your facility. These hydraulic-powered lifts incorporate into just about any production line, they allow you to create variable-height work stations for any task, and, of course, they effortlessly lift loads of up to 6,000 pounds. In short, Lift Tables are an ergonomist’s dream. Thanks... Continue Reading
  • Ergonomics and Work-Related MSD

    Work-related injuries are a huge concern for any company. Injuries can lead to lost work time, slowed productivity, and increased cost of business. However, these injuries and their impacts on productivity can often be prevented. According to OSHA1, work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) “are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.” In 2012, the Bureau of... Continue Reading