Identifying Injury Risks to Improve Safety and Productivity
What’s the leading cause of disabling injury in the workplace? In 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available), the top cause was “overexertion involving outside sources,” according to the 2014 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index.
The overexertion category includes injuries related to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing, and it cost businesses $15.1 billion in direct costs (such as workers compensation). Overexertion injuries are so prevalent, they accounted for more than a quarter of the overall national burden of direct costs to companies across all industries.
While many companies have extensive workplace safety programs, other companies’ safety plans are less developed. If your employees are getting injured and you’re not sure how to create a safer environment while maintaining productivity, here are some points to consider.
Review and organize employee injury data.
When companies ask us about motorized ergonomic solutions, it’s usually for one of these reasons: 1) Employees are experiencing push/pull or lifting forces that exceed their company standards, 2) workplace injuries have occurred, or 3) some employees have limited work restrictions because of an on-the-job injury or a non-work-related event.
To help determine your areas of highest focus for safety, review your employee injury logs. Organize them into type of injury (lifting, pulling, pushing, etc.) and into work area – where they occurred and any equipment involved. Also conduct formal surveys of your employees to get their feedback about areas where overexertion may not be getting addressed.
Conduct a workflow analysis.
As you look at injuries that have occurred and begin to identify potential risks, you can uncover ways to not only make your plant safer, but also improve productivity. A workflow analysis can identify bottlenecks in the production process that may not otherwise be evident. For example, a motorized, adjustable-height scissor lift could be used to handle and transport large parts instead of a non-motorized, manual cart that requires excessive bending, pushing or pulling. The motorized lift would not only improve safety, it could also include features that increase productivity of a particular manufacturing cell.
Once you’ve determined the root cause of each bottleneck in your process, gather key employees and brainstorm possible solutions. Once a bottleneck is corrected, it should be reintroduced into the work flow analysis to see if other bottlenecks will surface.
Electro Kinetic Technologies can conduct a plant walk-through and workflow analysis for your facility. When it comes to preventing musculoskeletal injuries, we can recommend several possible ergonomic solutions, both custom and standard depending on your needs. We can also suggest improvements to your plant layout and work process, to give you the best value while helping you improve plant safety.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve your ergonomic and safety goals.