In the manufacturing industry, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a serious concern. Workers in a manufacturing environment often perform tasks that involve quick cycles of repetitive motion, and over time this puts them at considerable risk of injury.
Here are some of the ways you can start minimizing the risk of RSIs at your production site.
Train and educate employees
Before implementing any measures to reduce the risk of RSIs in your workplace, get your employees on the same page. Educate them on the common causes and dangers of RSIs, possible symptoms they may experience, and the best practices that will help prevent injury. Encourage employees to report to their supervisor if they experience any signs of a potential injury.
Getting enough rest is essential to preventing injury. While it’s essential for workers to get a good night’s sleep and take a break for meals, this may not be enough to mitigate the effects of repeated motions.
Employees should take micro-breaks, give their bodies time to recover, and stretch to engage different muscle groups. Individual workers may not be aware of when they are in need of a break, so make sure that these micro-breaks are scheduled and called out for compliance.
The risk of injury can be compounded if a person is performing an activity with incorrect form. When all the right muscles are engaged, the strain is more evenly distributed and this minimizes the dangers of getting injured. Every task is different, so consult a professional healthcare provider to determine the best workplace program for each employee based on their role, and have workers exercise regularly to build strength and use proper form in their movements.
Productivity is always going to be a consideration in your manufacturing operations. When employees take breaks to relax, stretch, and exercise, it prevents injury but lowers output. A scheduled task rotation can help you maintain productivity without increasing strain. Workers can periodically switch to new tasks that engage different muscle groups, reducing the need for frequent, extended breaks.
Poor ergonomics can lead to discomfort and improper form, especially when handling equipment. The latest power tools may offer significant weight reduction and better handling. Alternatively, new advances on collaborative robot applications can also offer mechanical assistance in performing an increasing range of manual tasks. Keep looking for ways where investing in improved equipment can end up reducing the risk of RSIs and saving costs in the long term.
Even among highly trained professional athletes, fatigue increases the risk of suffering an injury. Workers at your site can end up logging a lot of overtime hours, whether to meet production demand or earn incentives and bonuses. Have your site supervisors track each employee’s worked hours, restrict overtimes, and manage staffing to ensure production needs are met without sacrificing anyone’s health and morale.
Most employees would probably prefer to work in a cool environment rather than a hot one. But if it gets too cold, the risk of injury rises. It’s always recommended to have workers warm up before performing strenuous physical activity, and keep site temperatures at least above 60.8°F, especially in winter.
Implement these preventive measures at your workplace, and you’ll benefit from improved long-term productivity, and a well-conditioned and happy workforce.