worker ergonomics

Worker safety is a top priority for any warehouse manager, and an underrepresented but major part of safety is worker ergonomics. Manual material handling is one of the leading causes of muscle strain, skeletal disorders, and related injuries, with up to 500,000 cases of stress in shoulders, backs, arms, and legs reported by warehouse workers every year.

There’s a lot you can do to help prevent these injuries as a warehouse manager, and odds are you already do some of them – mandatory weight limits, enforced break times, training on proper handling, etc. But the sort of industrial storage and equipment you use (and how you use them) can also have a big impact on worker ergonomics and safety, and may be just as important as proper training and providing a safe work environment.

 

Keep Popular Items In Easy To Reach Areas

If there’s a product you find yourself shipping out a lot, or a part you need more often than other give this item priority when you decide where to shelf it. Bring in some wire shelving and place it at just below eye-level to allow easier access and reduce the amount of time your employees have to spend bending over or reaching below them, both of which are leading contributors to neck, shoulder, and back injury.

 

Place Items At Comfortable Heights And Angles

This one may take a little work depending on the design of your warehouse, but it’s more than worth it to help your employees. Whatever sort of storage or shelving you have, make sure as much of it as possible is kept at a safe height and angle for your workers to get to. Not too high, not too low, and nothing that requires keeping your back and shoulders at an unnatural angle. Even if it’s not an item that gets picked too frequently, this will help to further prevent injury and issue.

 

Give Workers A Chance To Move Around

A leading contributor to ergonomic issues in warehouse staff is sedentary positions. If workers are stuck at one station for too long, or even if they’re provided stools during work, remaining stationary can contribute to posture, leg, and shoulder issues. Give workers a chance to walk back and forth between stations every once in a while, or even a trip to the other side of the warehouse and back just to stretch their muscles and keep the blood flowing.

 

Enforce Safety Guidelines

While your warehouse surely already has guidelines in place, they’re not going to do much good if they aren’t being followed. Make sure your employees know the importance of maintaining proper safety and handling guidelines, and keep them trained and up-to-date on both your own internal policies and overall OSHA guidelines.

And just remember: whatever changes you make in your warehouse layout, always remember to put your employees first.

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