Ergonomic analysis in a food packaging workplace

By Cordeiro, Ana; Arezes, Pedro; Pinho, Eugenia; Arezes, P; Baptista, JS; Barroso, MP; Carneiro, P; Cordeiro&comma

Sho2015: International Symposium on Occupational Safety and Hygiene

2015

Abstract

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) became one of the biggest health problems in the workplace and one of the main concerns of ergonomics and despite all the technical improvements manual handling is still an important risk factor for WMSD. The current study was performed with the main objective of conducting an ergonomic analysis in a workplace that consists in packaging products in a pallet, in a food distribution industry, also called picking. In this perspective, the aim of the study is to identify if the tasks performed by operators present any risk of WMSD and, if so, to suggest proposals for minimizing the associated effort. The methodologies of ergonomic risk assessment that were initially applied were the Risk Reckoner and the Manual Handling Assessment Chart (MAC). Subsequently, in order to, on the one hand, complement the analysis performed using the two methods previously mentioned, and, on the other hand, allow an assessment of two important risk factors associated with this activity (work postures and loads handling), two additional methodologies were also selected: the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation and the Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA). In all the performed approaches, the tasks of palletizing at lower levels were identified as the ones that most penalize workers in what regards the risk of development of WMSD. All methodologies identified levels of risk that require an immediate or short-term ergonomic intervention, aiming at ensuring the safety and health of workers performing such activity. The implementation of measures designed to eliminate or minimize the risk may involve the allocation of significant human and material resources that is increasingly necessary to manage efficiently. Taking into account the complexity and variability of the developed tasks, it is recommended that such a decision can be preceded by a new study using more accurate risk assessment methodologies, such as those that use monitoring tools.

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