Imagine your job is lifting a five pound weight. Pretty easy, right? Most healthy adults don’t have an issue picking up something that light or even holding it about their heads for a few minutes. Pick it up, put it down, go home, get your paycheck. Unfortunately, your boss knows how easy it is for you to pick up that five pound weight, and they want a little more productivity for what they’re paying you. So, they insist that you pick that weight up 1,500 times over the course of your eight hour shift.
Now it’s not so easy. You do the math and figure out that it comes out to around one lift every twenty seconds, a hair over three times a minute. By the end of the first hour, you’re feeling it. Halfway through your shift, your shoulder is a hot wire and you’re taking frequent breaks to stretch and change position. By the time you go home, you’re ready to never look at a five pound weight again. Unfortunately, you have to go back to work again the next day, and the next—how many months like this until you start to do permanent damage to your shoulder?
If you think that there’s no workplace in the world like this, you’re partially right. Lifting a simple five pound weight 1,500 times? That doesn’t do anyone a lot of good. Lifting an electronic screwdriver, which can weigh around five pounds, 1,500 times as you assemble consumer electronics, medical devices, or automotive parts? That’s useful, and workplaces across the world require it every day. Of course, all that lifting and screwing eventually takes its toll on the shoulders, wrists, arms, and backs of employees. To make the job more bearable and less injurious, manufacturers are improving the ergonomics of their workplaces with telescopic tool arms.
Improving Workplace Ergonomics Benefits Workers and Managers
Ergonomics is the study of work: what kind of work people do, what tools they use to do it, and where they get it done. The basic aim is to improve people’s ability to do their work by increasing efficiency, preventing injury, and fitting the task to the person, sometimes by using accommodating equipment. There are several reasons why workers and managers benefit from ergonomic solutions in the workplace.
For one, studying the ergonomics of your workplace can help you improve productivity. Using different tools or changing the layout of workstations are ergonomic solutions which may improve output or decrease bottlenecks in the flow of assembly pieces. This benefits workers, who feel better knowing they’re able to effectively do their job. It also bears fruit for managers, who see the ergonomic gains in the form of increased productivity.
One of the most important aspects of ergonomic study is preventing injury. Workplace injuries have been common throughout history. Some are severe and can cost workers life or limb. Others are more minor, but even these ones can lead to poor workplace satisfaction (and increased turnover), diminished productivity, and more medical leave for workers. Simple, proactive fixes like installing a handrail or using “wet floor” signs are ergonomic solutions which can prevent serious, expensive injuries.
In the case of manufacturing workers lifting electronic screwdrivers hour after hour, year after year, repetitive motion injuries are most common. Even that little bit of weight takes its toll on the body, damaging muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and nerves over time. Without an ergonomic solution, workers will eventually suffer medical problems that prevent them from working as efficiently. Fortunately, this common issue has a simple ergonomic solution: taking the weight off the worker with telescopic tool arms.
How Telescopic Tool Arms Improve Assembly Ergonomics
Telescopic tool arms are mounted, collapsible arms capable of holding the weight of an electric screwdriver. They have swivel joints which allow them free range of motion within the radius of their arm. Their purpose is to hold a tool so the tool’s operator doesn’t have to.
Instead of lifting the weight of the screwdriver every time they need to fasten a joint, workers merely guide the tool arm into position. Then, the heaviest thing they have to lift is their own arm. This small amount of weight reduction, multiplied by hundreds of thousands of repetitions, adds up to major gains in terms of worker health. Repetitive motion injuries are significantly reduced while quality of life for workers is significantly enhanced.
From a business perspective, a minor upfront investment in ergonomic tool arms generates a valuable return. Happy workers are more productive and less likely to leave their jobs. Since they’re less likely to be injured, they won’t need to take as much time off work or file as many worker’s compensation or disability claims. Insurance rates may even go down. All told, it’s a win for everyone involved.
Telescopic tools arms are relatively inexpensive, easily installed, and highly effective at improving worker health and happiness in the long run. They’re an ergonomic solution to one of the most common workplace hazards in manufacturing and assembly: repetitive motion injuries. Additionally, they can increase productivity by decreasing fatigue and time off. A small investment can lead to large improvements in the future.