Ergonomics in the Modern Warehouse
In past articles about proper lifting techniques, we learned how to prevent injuries to the lower back. Now let’s take a closer look at warehouse ergonomics in a few common situations. Good ergonomics in the workplace facilitate higher quality work and healthy employees. A well planned workstation not only makes a position more sustainable but also leads to higher productivity.
Tips for Lifting from Low Places
Following good lifting practices is an important part of ergonomics in the workplace. Unloading a pallet is one of the most taxing scenarios for the body. The heaviest objects are always placed on bottom for stability, meaning employees lift the heaviest loads with the most difficult body posture. Here are some suggestions for proper lifting techniques with regards to a pallet:
- Avoid reaching across a pallet.
- Raise the pallet off the ground with the help of a palletizer or use empty pallets.
- Encourage suppliers to ship items in packages that have handles or handle cut outs.
- Encourage suppliers to use slip sheets to reduce the forces needed to break down a pallet.
- Load heavier products on the edge and light objects in the middle.
Objects should be lifted from between the waist and below the chest. Lifted objects should be held tight to the body.
Tips for Lifting from High Places
You should never lift above your heart because blood circulation is decreased, reducing performance and safety. Lifting anything above the chest strains the back, shoulders, hands, and wrists. A pick stick, which looks like a shepherd’s crook, should be used to pull goods stacked on shelves close to the edge for easier pick up.
Ergonomics for Sitting at a Desk
Sitting at desk for long periods of time can be very hard on the body. Sitting limits the blood circulation and oxygen supply to your muscles. Practice good ergonomics in the workplace by encouraging good posture when sitting at a desk.
- Hips should be open between 90 and 120 degrees.
- Use a footrest.
- Keep wrists straight.
- The top of the monitor should be at eye level.
- Do not lean forward. Leaning forward puts stress on the lower back and neck.
- Take a walk a few times a day.
Ergonomics for Standing Workers
Standing can require up to 20% more energy than sitting. Here are some habits that can reduce fatigue when standing for long periods of time while working:
- Wear shoes that don’t pinch. Feet swell while standing. Buy shoes a half size larger.
- Use anti-fatigue mats.
- Avoid extreme bending.
- Allow workers a ramping up time period when first starting or after a vacation.
- Change positions frequently.
- Take short five minute sitting breaks every so often.
Want More Warehousing Tips?
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.