Wie Sie durch intelligentes Heben den Arbeits- und Gesundheitsschutz verbessern können

Health and safety at work are key to achieving sustainable working conditions. Occupational diseases and accidents remain common in many industries and their cost in terms of human suffering and economic consequences remains significant.

Promoting health and safety at work to improve general working conditions is important not only to ensure workers‘ well-being but also to positively influence productivity. Healthy employees are more motivated, have higher job satisfaction and contribute to better quality products and services. This also improves the quality of life of individuals and society as a whole.

Start with prevention

Set long-term goals to improve health and safety in the workplace. By striving to minimize the causes of workplace hazards, you can help reduce the cost of work-related injuries and illnesses, improve working conditions and increase productivity.

Many factors influence health and safety in the workplace. Ergonomics, stress and chemical hazards are some important aspects to consider. All of these areas have rules that employers must follow. This article focuses on ergonomics, including how tasks and workflows can be adapted to humans to minimize the risk of accidents and illness. Sustainable planning and organization of work is the key to successful prevention of workplace hazards.

Because occupational hazards occur in the workplace, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a healthy and safe work environment. This also includes the prevention and protection of workers from occupational risks. Training in risk prevention and how to perform tasks safely are important components in creating a healthy and safe workplace.

Identify and understand the risks in your workplace

In general, small companies report more work-related injuries than large companies. It appears that the rate of serious injuries in small establishments (defined as establishments with fewer than 50 employees) is twice as high as in large establishments (defined as establishments with more than 200 employees).

Regardless of company size, there is a strong link between working conditions and Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD). MSDs occur in most industries and are often related to manual activities such as heavy lifting, repetitive tasks, uncomfortable, strenuous and stressful work postures and movements.

Female worker carrying a large package and sitting on a forklift    Male worker in a food factory emptying a sack into a blender

Manual handling primarily refers to the manual labor of lifting, carrying, pulling, or dragging. This also includes tasks such as stacking and retrieving goods on shelves, sorting and palletizing packages, manually filling mixers and machines with raw materials, and much more. During heavy manual work there is a risk that the operator’s back, shoulders and arms will be overloaded. This is particularly risky when handling is combined with poor working posture.

According to current knowledge, three aspects are most important for the prevention of back injuries:
1. Avoid heavy lifting if possible (or use technical aids such as vacuum lifters or pallet jacks )
2. Keep the load close to the body
3. Avoid lifting and rotating at the same time

The human body is designed to move and carry loads, and will even thrive as long as there is variety in the load and movement, and the opportunity to rest. If the same movements or carrying are repeated frequently or last for a long time, the possibility of recovery is limited and the risk of illness or accidents increases.

What is a high risk cargo? (No, we’re not talking about explosives)

Risky or unhealthy loads include heavy loads, repetitive loads, unilateral loads, and static muscle work. The exposure dose is a measure that is often used to estimate the risk of illness or injury. The exposure dose is a combination of the following work factors:

  • how much (intensity)
  • how often (frequency)
  • how long (duration)

A high exposure dose is often a high-risk exposure, but even a low exposure dose can have negative health effects, especially when it comes to repetitive work. Repetitive work means that the worker performs one or more tasks (with similar movements) over and over again for a large part of the working day. The task is usually just part of a larger workflow and is often performed at high speed.

Male worker carries a large heavy burlap sack on his shoulder

Repeating the same movements over and over creates an even, constant load. The object to be moved hardly has to weigh anything, since the weight of the arms is sufficient to put an unfavorable strain on muscles and joints. The long-term consequence can be gradual injuries that take a long time to heal. Once we are injured, we often have the same pain again when we exert similar pressures.

What are the employer’s obligations?

The employer is responsible for ensuring that the workplace and the work to be performed are ergonomically well designed. In order to take preventive measures, the employer must examine the working conditions and carry out a risk assessment. Here is a helpful guide to conducting a risk assessment in your workplace .

If an employee is injured due to an acute overload or suffers an occupational disease due to a long-term overload, the employer must act. The sooner action is taken, the easier it will be for the employee to return to work.

Employers should assess whether exposure, either individually or in combination, poses a risk for MSDs. The risks must be assessed based on the duration, frequency and intensity of exposure (as mentioned above). In addition, the employer should arrange the workplace in such a way that the risk of musculoskeletal disorders when handling loads manually is minimized.

Preventive measures include both organizational procedures and the use of lifting aids such as vacuum lifters and lifting trolleys to avoid workers having to handle loads manually.

What are the duties of the employee?

Employees are also responsible. One obligation is to be aware of risks in the work environment and to report them to the employer. To prevent the risk of accidents and illness, the employee must also use tools and protective equipment in accordance with the employer’s instructions to carry out the work.

Use of TAWI hoists as a preventive measure

As previously mentioned, manual activities and heavy lifting should be avoided to prevent injuries and accidents in the workplace. Sometimes it is not possible to avoid manual handling by reorganizing the specific task and the employer has to look for alternative solutions. Lifting aids such as mobile and stationary vacuum lifters, pallet trucks and hoists are some examples of equipment that not only minimize the risk of injury, but often contribute to higher productivity.

The combination of improved health and safety at work AND increased productivity will ensure a sustainable future for your company. At TAWI we want to help you achieve this. Our intelligent lifting devices are designed to optimize your work processes, be it in production, sales or logistics.

„We use several jacks from TAWI in our production lines, they are easy to use and have high operational safety. The jacks are also ergonomically designed, which has reduced the number of work-related injuries“ , Gustaf Henrysson, Production Engineer, Aritco, Sweden.

„The devices are easy to use, and loading crates and kegs onto pallets is quick and ergonomic with the vacuum lifters“ , Matthijs van der Geest, logistics worker at Jopen Brewery, Netherlands.

Male worker lifts boxes from a conveyor onto a pallet using a hand-held vacuum lifter  Jopen Brewery, Netherlands

Intelligent hoists in real life

At RPC Superfos in Denmark, large quantities of packaging products are manufactured and packed on pallets 24 hours a day, every day. At the end of the process, the finished products are packed in large boxes and placed on pallets. The employees stack these boxes up to 2.6 meters high on the pallets and often have to lift them above shoulder height. This type of repetitive lifting of heavy loads affects the body in the long run and often leads to work-related injuries.

About 20 years ago, RPC Superfos decided to invest in their first TAWI vacuum lifters – with great success. „With our vacuum lifters we reduce the risk of work-related injuries in the long term. Our employees are also happy that we have found a solution that takes their health and well-being into account“ , Henning Frederiksen, project manager at RPC Superfos in Randers, Denmark.

Raise the box above shoulder height with a flexible handle vacuum lifter

The vacuum lifters are used day and night by the packaging staff and all new employees are trained to use the lifters as part of their initial training. „Without them we couldn’t handle the manual lifting operations“ , Susan Betzer, packaging worker at RPC Superfos in Randers, Denmark.

Do you need support?

Do you have manual handling tasks that cannot be avoided? With decades of experience helping our customers lift and move goods in a sustainable way, we can recommend the best solution for your business. We can help ensure health and safety in your workplace without compromising productivity. Contact us to arrange a free tour or product demonstration.

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