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Quantifying the Impact of a Lift Assist

The Problem

Manufacturing plumbing fixtures is very labor-intensive, as it requires multiple lifts throughout the casting, coating, and finishing processes.  In addition, the particular toilet fixture being evaluated weighed 57 lbs.  Manual handling of these fixtures produced several complaints of back pain, and there was a concern that more serious injuries would develop.

Action Taken

A prototype hoist was devised to support the weight of the fixture as it was moved through the work process.  A team from SRI-Ergonomics asked experienced employees to wear a Lumbar Motion Monitor (LMM) as they performed job tasks, both as the job was originally designed and using the hoist.

The results found that this job, at baseline, presented a moderate level of low-back injury risk.  The fixture weight imposed the most exposure, and the LMM measured modest amounts of trunk twisting and side-bending (lateral) velocities.

When the hoist was used, the modified job reduced injury risk to a low level.  The impact of fixture weight was essentially eliminated, and the impact on trunk motions was negligible.

Impact

This evaluation, and these results, confirmed that the proposed solution would indeed create a low injury risk job, and the facility mandated use of the hoist to handle these plumbing fixtures.