Job Design Tips for Ergonomic Hand Tool Use
Selecting the proper tool for the job and fitting it to the individual is
important for productivity and worker health; however even people working at a
correctly designed workstation and using the best available tools can get
injured if their work is poorly designed. If you work with hand tools or plan
the work of those who do, here are some tips for work organization to help
prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Change it up
Jobs that use only one kind of tool for one or a few tasks, using the same movement and same part of the body, can overload those muscles, ligaments, tendons or tissues and cause pain and injury. A job that involves a variety of tasks allows you to change your body position to distribute the workload over different parts of the body, and to give overused muscles some relief and recovery time.
Rotate tasks among workers that are different in the type of movement and body parts used, having them move from one task to another according to a schedule. Add more tasks to the job.
Assign a larger part of work to a team of workers with each member sharing several different tasks.
Pace - don't race
A fast pace of work is a strong risk factor for MSDs. If the pace is too fast, the muscles involved do not have enough time to recover from the effort and restore enough energy to continue the work. If the pace of work is imposed externally - assembly line speed, for example - adjust it to the speed that is acceptable for the slowest worker. Incentive systems that reward for the quality of work naturally determine the "right" pace of work. In contrast, incentive systems that reward for the amount or quantity of work increase the risk for MSDs and may affect quality as well.
Break it up
Work and rest breaks provide time for the muscles you are using on the job to rest and recover, and help prevent injury. The work break is a time period (even short periods of time, literally seconds) between tasks which allow you to relax muscles involved in operating tools. Rest breaks, the period after work stops, not only allow for refreshment, but also can be used to stretch and relax.
Take time to adjust
When returning to work after a long absence, or when starting a new job, you should have an adjustment or acclimatization period to get in shape. It should allow you to refresh old work habits or get used to a new routine. An adjustment period is a very important part of injury prevention. Inexperienced and new workers, as well as "old timers" returning to work after a period of recovery and rehabilitation, are more prone than most workers to both injury and re-injury.
Training workers on the safe use of tools, and on the hazards involved in working with them, has always been extremely important. As new materials, new technologies, and new equipment replace older ones faster then ever before, the importance of training is even greater. Before introducing a new tool or equipment, as well as any change in the way the job has been done previously, the worker should be given refresher training that includes new information about the changes being introduced. Even the best-designed tool, or the most ergonomically correct workstation, or the most up-to-date work organization will fail to prevent injuries if the worker is not properly trained.
AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety