What to Ask When Shopping for Ergonomic and Safety Equipment

shutterstock_82417807When there are ergonomic issues in a plant, there are most likely production bottlenecks, waste or even lost time injuries. Since there is usually more than one way to solve a material handling (MH) problem, finding the best ergonomic solution and/or safety equipment is an investigative process. Here are some simple steps to start that process:

1. Ask yourself, “In a perfect world, what do I really want?” advised MHI’s EASE Council Chairman Jim Galante of MHI Member Southworth Products. “Taking the time to evaluate what you really want helps get to the root of the problem instead of just fixing something on the surface.”

2. Do I really understand the problem and all of the issues involved? Talk to the people who are doing the task. Ask them what slows them down, what wastes their time and what bothers them. Ask them what hurts or feels sore at the end of their shift or their workweek. Knowing what problems they have while doing their jobs is essential in finding effective solutions.

3. What are the disrupters and how do I mitigate them? Disrupters are things that waste workers’ time by interfer­ing with the f low of material or the f low of work. They can be physical, like poorly positioned material at an assembly station, material that is stacked too high (or too low), awk­ward to handle components or a need to remove excess packaging. Other disrupters can be subtle. Examples of these are the height of a work bench, excess reaching or bending by workers to obtain good access to parts or assemblies or inadequate lighting.

By Jean Feingold

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