In recent years, with ever-increasing pressure to improve productivity, the packaging industry has come to realise that ergonomics is playing an increasingly influential role in its daily operations.
The segmentation of consumers into smaller target groups is putting the packaging industry under pressure to pack a wider assortment of containers and package sizes. This is leading to a greater requirement for safer, more efficient and increasingly adaptable work processes.
These industry developments have led to intensified demand for ergonomically designed handling equipment to improve safety and efficiency levels throughout the supply chain.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics, as defined in the Oxford Dictionary, is as follows:
“The study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.”
The importance of the word “efficiency” in this definition should not be overlooked. Working with people to improve their safety and working environment in all industrial processes and practices, is the best way of improving efficiency and increasing productivity in the long term.
Keeping Employees Safe
Manual packaging operations often involve employees standing in the same location, carrying out repetitive movements. Some processes require heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, often in awkward postures. Such practices can result in repetitive motion industries, most frequently affecting the wrists or the back.
Similarly, they can also cause musculoskeletal injuries, one of the leading causes of absence from work, usually affecting the neck, upper extremities and lower back.
These injuries don’t just affect the worker. An estimated 8.9 million working days were lost in the UK due to work-related musculoskeletal injuries s in 2016/17, an average of 17.6 days per case.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders account for 35% of all working days lost due to work-related injury.
The regulations most relevant to the packaging industry that require employers to assess health and safety risks to their workers are:
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.
- Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
- Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Our experience of working with customers demonstrates that problems caused by manual handling issues can lead to significant losses, not only sickness absence but also retraining, high staff turnover, reduced productivity and low staff morale. Compensation claims are still rising which can, in turn, affect insurance premiums.
However, adapting situations to support individual employees can lead to heightened job satisfaction and increased motivation. This, in turn, leads to better health and well-being and improved productivity.
How We Can Help
We have helped many customers in the packaging and shipping industry. Our ergonomic materials handling equipment, designed and manufactured in the UK, is ideal for making your work processes flow, improving workplace safety and increasing employee wellbeing and motivation.
If there isn’t any standard equipment that will effectively do what you need it to do, you have found the right people! We are specialists in the design and manufacture of bespoke materials handling solutions, building equipment that will handle unique products, in unique environments for unique applications.