Constant pressure is put on operators to produce more while respecting tighter deadlines. This increased stress opens the door to work-related injuries, that not only affects your workforce, but that also impacts general morale and productivity. So what can you do to increase workplace safety without significantly slowing-down production? Luckily, today’s smart manufacturing technology and tool providers have your back, and have the solutions you need to make your shop floor a productive and safe place.
Although traumatic injuries still take up most of the press when it comes to work related injuries, Emily St-Denis, resident kinesiologist at VKS and its sister company CMP AMS, thinks that it is important to call attention to a more subtle yet growing issue. “Right now the industry is dealing with a rise in injuries caused by repetitive motion as well as over extension. These injuries can lead to serious health issues such as tendonitis and chronic back pain”. In fact, according to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada, in 2016, the number of claims due to musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diseases and disorders increased form 7 404 to 8 030. In the U.S., the OSHA cites that ergonomic injuries have a direct cost of 15-20 billion per year. “What people don’t realize, added St-Denis, is that most people pay no mind to these injuries at first. They tell themselves that it is part of job and that after a long day a little aching is normal. The problem is that it is not, and that the small ache can eventually become debilitating. Employers have to be wary of that and look for ways to keep they workforce healthy.” Fortunately, the advancements brought to us by smart manufacturing can help employers do just that.
A frequently encountered cause of injury is the physical effort made by operators to adjust to tools that are not tailored to them. This is one of the considerations the design team at ASG took into account when they launched their ergonomic Torque Arm Positioning System. “ It is important to account for ergonomics from both a tool standpoint, as well as dealing with the torque reaction produced by the tool, said Robyn Green, Marketing Coordinator at ASG . When we design a tool, the weight and physical design must promote comfort and ergonomics to avoid strain and repetitive stress.” This latest product is actually all about protecting the operators from repetitive physical stress. “Some tools produce higher torque, and that reaction must be removed from the operator. With our ergonomic positioning arm system, we are providing complete torque reaction, taking that force off the operator.”
Not only does ASG value the importance of ergonomics and the health of your operators, they also deliver tools that feature the latest in smart manufacturing technology. “Customers appreciate the ergonomic benefit of the tools, confirms Robyn Green, but they also take advantage of the features incorporated into the system: accurate and repeatable torque, torque data collection, and several levels of error-proofing.”
Ensuring that operators have access to ergonomic tools is a great first step to reducing repetitive motion and overextension injuries. However, smart manufacturing practices can help you take it even further. Visual aids as well as alerts and reminders are imperative to ensure that your workforce has safety on the brain.
In addition to enabling you to distribute quality visual work instructions to your workforce, and assisting you with your smart manufacturing needs, VKS also assists you when it comes to health and safety. Here are some suggestions from Emilie St-Denis on how you can use existing VKS features to reinforce your company’s safety culture.
Use the Setup Step option when authoring guidebooks to explain to operators how to adjust the setup to their requirements, in order to reduce the risk of overextension.
The pictogram function is a perfect way to display the symbols representing the security gear that should be worn during the assembly. It is also a good place to put the symbols of any chemicals that might be used by the operator.
Alert notifications can be inserted into a guidebook to remind your operators to take a moment to stop and stretch. Also, since they can be added to published guidebooks, they are also a great way to easily communicate new safety tips and regulations to the operators.
Forms can be used to collect feedback from your operators. Do they find their environment safe? Is their setup comfortable? Do they have any concerns or suggestions? Forms are a great way to make sure that information is communicated and recorded.
Has your company ever used VKS for health and safety related activities? If so, please contact your VKS representative and tell us about it. We love to hear about how you use our product!