Industrial Engineering

Know the job; save the changes

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INDUSTRIAL ENGINEER – VOLUME 48: NUMBER 11

Most of the engineers tasked with anything ergonomics- or human-factors-related are industrial engineers. Other industrial engineers had no clue about it, yet they were tasked with including ergonomics and human factors into a design. Engineers have to know the job. Not just the throughput, the materials, the time studies but have to know the physical demands of the job.

It’s a common fallacy to believe that industrial engineers solve all problems by themselves.the most effective approachfor preventing injuries and keeping costs lows for managers to execute a proactive team approach.It’s about having the right people on these project teams from the start. This includesoperations people, ergonomist, and occupational health and safety person.

A case study where a client had to incorporate ergonomics into the design of a warehouse cart. A certified professional ergonomist (CPE) was tasked with incorporating ergonomics into the design of a new cart handle. The client asked the CPE to consult with its engineers, health and safety, and continuous improvement teams to develop a cart handle that would allow the workers to load full orders of snack-related products onto a cart without increasing the potential for musculoskeletal injury for the warehouse workers.

Anthropometrics were incorporated into the design of the cart handle to allow for workers with sizes from the fifth percentile up to the 95th percentile to use the cart without being in awkward body postures. A universal handle also was retrofitted for existing carts to reduce the cost of replacing handles on more than 50,000 carts.the effort prompted positive feedback from the warehouse employees and reduced injuries due to musculoskeletal disorders attributed to awkward postures while pushing or pulling the carts.