When companies re-start operations, leadership must consider the physical deconditioning of workers. It is important to investigate ways to reintegrate employees into standard work without increasing musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk and without impacting manufacturing production and product quality.
Tips for Workers When Restarting Work
Here are some ways to reduce physical stress on workers when restarting work:
Review workstation inventory.
Analyze workstations to ensure all tools, equipment, and supplies are in the correct location and that all equipment is in proper working condition.
Reduce non-value-added activity.
Review the on-floor operations and identify ways to eliminate movement waste. This may involve making changes to the workstation layout, organizing the tools and equipment, or determining the most efficient way to complete the task. Especially as everyone practices social distancing—6 feet apart—consider ways to mechanically transport products between workstations. This will reduce worker bending and reaching when retrieving products between stations.
Limit job rotation.
If job rotation is not done correctly, it has the potential to increase workplace injury rate by increasing the number of employees exposed to high-risk jobs. Therefore, it is not an effective ergonomics solution. In addition, less job rotation will reduce common touch points between workers, which may help reduce the spread of germs and help employees feel safer.
Identify the tasks that require the highest forceful exertion.
Analyze the jobs to pinpoint where the highest forces are, determine the true root cause of the excessive force, and brainstorm engineering solutions to eliminate or reduce exposure to the excessive force. Then implement the improvements that are feasible for the time being.
Identify the tasks that require the highest magnitude of awkward postures.
Analyze the jobs to pinpoint where the awkward postures are, determine the true root cause of the awkward posture, and brainstorm engineering solutions to eliminate or reduce the magnitude of the posture. Then implement the improvements that are feasible for the time being.
Implement engineering solutions to reduce employee exposure to MSD risk factors.
If production is slow, it may be the perfect time to make physical changes to the workstation layout, equipment, or process. Focus on high-impact, low-cost engineering solutions that are quick to implement.
Add additional error-proofing stations.
Consider adding temporary checkpoint stations to ensure that all work is getting done correctly. This not only helps ensure that product quality is on point, but it also helps to eliminate rework and waste.
Bring in health care professionals.
Consider bringing in health care professionals, such as a physiotherapist or a message therapist, to address employee discomfort as soon as it starts.
Consider these tips to help make employees’ jobs easier as they restart work and get used to the physical demands of their jobs. Not only can these ideas help prevent or reduce the onset on MSDs, but they can help improve product quality, employee efficiency, and employee satisfaction.