Material Handling Ergonomics: 4 Products to Keep Your Workers Safe

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June is National Safety Month, but keeping your employees safe should be a year-round priority.

Ergonomic workstation

Most material handling situations involve physically-straining or repetitive actions, such as lifting products from variable elevations, installing a component in an assembly process, or picking products into containers for order fulfillment. Those physical stresses could lead to worker injury and additional costs associated with lost productivity and downtime, making material handling ergonomics a key part of your operation.

Ergonomic equipment is used in many facilities to help the task fit the worker, instead of forcing the worker to fit the task. There are many ergonomic assist solutions that will improve the safety and well-being of operators working in manufacturing and warehousing facilities. Common solutions include lifting a worker or the item to the appropriate height to comfortably complete a task, tilting a load for more ergonomic picking, elevating or rotating a component for additional assembly, or supporting a load during its movement.

Some of the most common equipment options to improve material handling ergonomics include:

Load Balancer

A load balancer is an overhead device that lifts and lowers loads by supporting the weight completely. This allows the operator to easily maneuver the load. This equipment is frequently used for awkward, heavy or rapid load movements, or to suspend equipment used in a repetitive operation.

Lift Tables

Lift tables are portable or stationary devices that lift loads from the bottom up. The unit positions material so operators do not have to lift excessive loads, lift repetitively or bend to do their jobs. Options may include a tilting mechanism to angle the load, or a turntable to rotate a load so an operator can easily access all sides. This solution is most commonly found in manual palletizing operations.

Manipulator

This device is a mechanical arm equipped with an end-effector attachment, such as a gripper or forks, to handle different types of products. As a manual movement assist device, a manipulator counteracts the weight of the load to render it nearly weightless by using hydraulic or pneumatic power. These solutions are available in both fixed and portable configurations. Similarly, there are also drum/roll manipulators. These are different than your standard mechanical arm manipulators, but the goal is the same, to safely handle products. Drum and roll manipulators turn over heavy and large drums or rolls for filling, emptying or placing into machines.

Workstation, Work Table or Work Bench

Comprised of a horizontal surface whose height can be vertically adjusted to accommodate workers of various heights and physiques, a workstation is commonly used in assembly and manufacturing operations. It provides a space where components or finishing processes can be added to a work-in-process.

June might be National Safety Month, but it’s always important to educate your workers on safe handling and lifting practices as well as provide the necessary tools for them to safely perform their roles in your manufacturing or warehousing facility. Focusing on good material handling ergonomics ensures worker safety, increased productivity and an improved bottomline.

To see or learn more about safety and ergonomic equipment, contact us, or visit our online equipment store.

Codi Wilson
Codi is a Field Applications Engineer with Bastian Solutions, based out of Bowling Green, KY. He comes to Bastian Solutions after several years of conveyor experience as an Engineer and Account Manager at Span Tech LLC.

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