Sound ergonomics make economic sense4 March 2009
I spoke in the last issue about how battening down the hatches and waiting for the storm to pass could do far more damage to your business than looking beyond the economic gloom. Plan now to gain later, I said.
Of course, nothing has changed significantly in the state of the US, or global, economy. In fact, this recession could yet prove to be in its infancy. So, let me add substance to this argument. I'll use ergonomics as an example.
As James J. Galante, Chairman of the Ergonomic Assist Systems and Equipment (EASE) Council, says in the March/April issue, doing more with less are today's marching orders. The recession is tightening its grip and manufacturers, suppliers and end users, like yourself, are battling to stay above water. But herein lies the opportunity; we are all in the same boat. And we share much in common.
It is worth resounding that ergonomics not only relates to working environments and the adoption of technological solutions within them but, more importantly, to the quantifiable maximizing of productivity. In that sense, it actually means something real to all of us.
Its astute application could ensure your business not only survives the short-term but is equipped to take advantage of the eventual upturn faster than your competitors.
As demand at plants and facilities softens, it's an opportune time to ensure your human and mechanical machine is able to cut costs and lead times and be more productive. If there are not three shifts of work available now, that's not to say those days won't return and, while few are operating at 100% now, full capacity could mean far greater in future.
Demand for smaller cranes (250, 500 and 1,000lb units), for example, is growing, ergonomics probably being the motivating factor. But there's further scope for growth in this sector, and everyone can get a piece of the pie.
The effects of manual material handling (MMH) represent the biggest single contributor to worker injury in the United States. But this is just one small part of the overall picture.
The ultimate result, when ergonomics is applied correctly, is mouthwatering: product damage and worker fatigue is reduced and increased throughput is achieved. It's a no-brainer.
Now is the time to scrutinize your systems of work.
Lifting, bending, carrying and other such MMH result in lost days that cost USA industry over $60 billion last year and that says nothing about the additional billions paid out for workers' compensation and medical expenses.
Can your business afford to contribute to this staggering waste of cash?
Richard Howes, Editor
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