Ergonomics done right.®
January 29th, 2014

Fixing a Problem Can Create a New One

by Bryan Picco, AEP

Retrieving heavy items from truck beds can be quite challenging. Many of us have memories of reaching awkwardly over trunk walls for tools and other material hidden in bed compartments with limited access. Truck manufactures have listened to their customers’ complaints and installed clever ways to bring drivers closer to the product in trunk beds. One accessory for purchase on many trucks is a retractable side-step. The step raises the driver almost a foot and a half above the ground to make reaching over trunk walls easier. This undoubtedly reduces the most important risk factor of the ergonomics fire triangle: Posture. Unfortunately, the designers of some of these steps forgot about another risk factor: Force.

 Check out this video of a couple of Humantech consultants trying to push in a retractable side-step. One consultant could not push in the step (and frustratingly so) while the second consultant took several attempts because the force was too high. Imagine if the attempts to push in the step were made on slippery standing surfaces. Slip and fall risks would increase.

 When generating improvement ideas to mitigate ergonomic risk factors, remember the ergonomic fire triangle of risk factors (Force, Frequency, and Posture) and check for success.