The COVID-19 pandemic that has consumed the world for the better part of two years has left people feeling lonely, disoriented, and anxious. Now, as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we must ask ourselves; what is next?
The country locked down, giving new importance to the world of eCommerce. From groceries, to diapers, to home office furniture, eCommerce sales grew 32% in 2020, compared to a typical growth pattern of about 14% annually before the pandemic. The two-year growth from 2019 to 2021 was 50.5%, with Amazon accounting for 40% of eCommerce sales. This exponential growth has changed the workplace conditions significantly across all industries.
What does this mean for our workplaces and warehouses?
To keep up with the demand, manufacturing facilities and warehouses alike need to speed up production and packaging. This often results in longer shifts, more overtime, higher quotas to be met, and an increased demand on industrial personnel. The consequence of these changes is an increase in musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as a result of overexertion in the workplace. As part of this negative chain reaction, longer work hours, more injuries, and poor working conditions leads to a labor shortage across the country. More and more workplaces are short-staffed and struggling with employee retention.
Ergonomic solutions are needed now more than ever. Employee safety must be prioritized in the workplace not only to prevent MSDs, but to boost morale and prolong employee retention. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Lifting solutions for MMH tasks:
Assistive devices are a great way to reduce the force required and maintain a neutral posture while transporting boxes or raw materials. Additionally, using lift devices allows all personnel to work within their power zone*.
- Vacuum or suction grippers
- Pneumatic lifts
- Scissor lifts
The dual layer memory foam allows for shock absorption, while triggering the muscle pump to improve blood flow throughout the body. These qualities provide a more comfortable, ergonomic, and anti-fatigue effect for all personnel. The arch support allows for the maintenance of a biomechanically efficient arch support, relieving stress from the knees, hips, and low back.
Providing your employees with the knowledge necessary to combat ergonomic risk factors in the workplace is a great way to not only engage employees, but successfully improve facility well-being.
- Seminars focused on active rest and the importance of movement
- Posters showcasing environmentally safe stretches that can be performed at the workstation
- Access to resources specializing in mental wellness and coping strategies
Altering each workstation to allow for more adjustability enables each employee to have a personalized and ergonomic setup while working at that station. Adjustments should focus on maximizing the use of the power zone where manual material handling is required.
If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that we must value one another. As an organization we must value the time, commitment, and dedication each employee gives to the success of the organization. We must appreciate this by building a workplace that prioritizes physical and mental wellness through ergonomics. Using ergonomics as part of your continuous improvement strategy will lead to a safer, more engaged community of employees, who are happy to return to your organization year after year. When budgeting for 2023, make room for safety, ergonomics, injury prevention, and employee wellness to ensure your employees don’t leave you behind.
*The power zone refers to the optimal region for lifting to occur based on muscle length and efficiency. This zone is often between the mid-thigh and mid-chest height. Lifting outside of this zone can result in injury.