In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed some of the serious ergonomic flaws in workplace design that are most often associated with repetitive stress injuries, trauma, or work-induced musculoskeletal disorders. These include dangerous actions like repeated twisting, reaching, kneeling and crouching, improper lifting, and poor work space layouts that pinch, strain, or reduce circulation to a specific part of the body during the course of an eight-hour shift.

These are all harmful conditions that can lead to injury, reduce worker comfort, and slow productivity. But one of the most important forms of ergonomic failure comes from another source: forceful exertion. Forceful exertion often takes place as a result of an employee’s actions, not necessarily a work space constraint. But employees often take these damaging actions because poor workplace conditions are in effect. For example, workers who are asked to meet unrealistic deadlines or quotas may voluntarily carry loads that are too heavy, or may try to move heavy loads across a large area in an unrealistically short amount of time.

Here are a few of the activities that fall into this category, with recommendations and limitations.

Forceful Gripping

Forceful gripping results from excessive use of non-powered hand tools or sustained attempts to grip objects and surfaces with no handles or hand-holds. This often happens when containers are too large to grip or no manual handling tools are available. Pallet lifters and proper handles can mitigate some of these problems.

Forceful Pinching

A sustained, forceful pinching action, such as the gripping of a pair of pair of pliers or a wrench, should be limited to two pounds of pressure and less than two hours per shift. Forceful gripping as described above and applied to an object at or over ten pounds should also be limited to two hours per shift.

Heavy Lifting

Objects of 75 pounds or more should be lifted only once per shift. Objects of 55 pounds should be lifted a maximum of ten lifts per shift.

Awkward Lifting

Awkward lifting includes any lift that rises above the shoulders, begins below the knees, or takes place at arm’s length. This type of activity should be limited to 25 pounds per lift and should take place no more than 25 times per shift.

Whenever possible, heavy or awkward loads should be divided into smaller lighter loads, and proper lifting and support equipment should be provided. For more on how to keep your teams safe as well as productive and efficient, contact the warehousing and materials handling experts at Liftow.