Tag Archives: job rotation

Job Rotation Food Processing

5 Mistakes You’re Making in Job Rotation

Job Rotation Food ProcessingAn employee comes to you and says that’s he’s hurting. In this case, it’s his shoulders.  So, you look down the line for a workstation requiring a different activity, and you plan a regular job rotation with the person running that station on his same shift.  With gratitude, the employee goes back to work.

Four days later, the employee calls in sick.  His shoulders hurt too badly to work, he says.  He says his doctor wants him off the job for two weeks. Two weeks go by, and ultimately he doesn’t ever come back.  You’re surprised by this.  You did what you thought would solve the problem.  What happened?

This is a regular occurrence in manufacturing job rotation, and there are five common mistakes made in designing a job rotation program that, if avoided, will actually set you on the path to establishing an assertive injury prevention program.

Mistake #1: Not including movement training.  Nothing would get done without humans moving.  But are they moving the right way?  Work has two parts: the tasks to be done and a method for doing them.  Each task can be performed in such a way to minimize the risk of causing personal discomfort and injury.  Do you know the best way to physically approach each task that a worker will perform each day, over and over? It’s not relying solely on the use of correct angles, which is common in ergonomics.  That’s just a start. Using technology such as sEMG, it is possible to see how an individual’s approach to the work is causing him or her discomfort, and how to modify the approach to reduce or completely eliminate that discomfort.  More importantly, sEMG shows aberrant muscle firing patterns and different types of muscle fatigue.  Individuals most often can’t perceive this in themselves; therefore, identifying the patterns prior to an injury and prior to a complaint can dramatically decrease risk for musculoskeletal injuries.  Health professionals highly skilled in  movement retraining  can then train individuals on optimal movement patterns for them that will avoid musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injury.

Mistake #2: Not designing a specific stretching/dynamic movement program for each workstation.  A generic stretching program is a good start, but if different movements are required at different workstations, specific stretches geared to those movements will provide the most benefit.  For example, a welder may just need to stand up straight and perform forearm stretches between units to relieve upper body stress or have a high stool to sit on for a minute to relieve low back pain, or both.  Workers need to be taught these specific stretches and countering movements along with the task at hand when they are rotated into a new position.  Employees leading the stretch programs should have additional education on the general whys, hows, a developing critical eye, and an attitude of engaging employees that half-heartedly participate or do not participate.  This type of engagement will assist the program to become better.

Mistake #3: Not breaking tasks down into their minimal components and addressing each.  The task may be a grip and cut in food processing, for example, but there’s also a repetitive reach to get the next piece of work.  Are all of these movements considered when planning job rotation?  Analyzing time exposure, static positions, the number of repetitions, and stress angles on joints required by the work at each station are just some of the factors that should be considered in a quality job rotation program.

Mistake #4: Not proactively responding to complaints.  If the lines of communication are open and broad between workers and management, the first hints of discomfort will be revealed.  This is an opportunity to proactively address them.  First aid massage, Kinesio Taping, and movement retraining, review and correction are just some of the tools that can be used to diminish the risk and return the worker to a better physical ability.

Mistake #5:  Rotating employees to workstations with similar versus completely diverse movements.  Do both stations require using the upper extremities in similar ways?  Constant gripping or twisting or reaching and lifting, for example?  How is the back being used at each workstation? Is repetitive twisting involved?  Reaching down and pulling?  If you can switch an employee to a station where none of the same movements are required you’ll get the best results.  Even the order in which the rotation happens can have an impact.

Job rotation in a production environment is an art, but it can produce amazing results if done in concert with a highly trained production movement specialist.  If you’d like a free and confidential consult on an area of concern in your own company, please give us a call at 803-716-9167.

 

Static standing has debilitating impact on the body.

Humans Are Built to Move: Effects of Static Standing OR Sitting

In the past few years, many of us have heard or read about the new “Silent Killer”: prolonged sitting. The deleterious effects of sitting are reducing quality of life by dramatically decreasing physical abilities and increasing onsets of various disease processes.

The effects of static standing

The effects of static standing or sitting can be quite deleterious.

In manufacturing, however, the opposite may be taking place: prolonged static standing.
This is a common posture in assembling, the food industry, and other labor jobs. Many assembling plants are looking to minimize footstep movement and reduce the number of times product is handled to decrease risk of physical injury from too many lifts, as well as increasing efficiency of work tasks.
The goals of decreasing worker injury while increasing efficiency, productivity, and ease of tasks are excellent in and of themselves. However, the flip side to this can be that there are now jobs that have the worker in prolonged standing postures instead.
Prolonged standing also has its negative effects on the human body and is well documented (Tu¨chsen, 2005) (Omar2, 2011). Static standing causes pooling of the blood in the lower extremities and increases muscle fatigue due to the prolonged co-contraction of muscles for erect standing. Both of these create discomfort or pain in the feet, legs, lower back, neck, shoulders and hips (Isa HALIM1, 2012). Research is also showing that prolonged standing doesn’t just mean standing still for long periods; the combination of standing and walking without ample opportunities to sit is included in the detrimental effects of static standing.
If a worker is standing the majority of the time with little movement, there are some low cost ideas to resolve some of the concerns associated with static standing (Improved Ergonomics for Standing Work -- Occupational Health & Safety, 2003):
1.) Develop an effective job rotation and maintain it.
a. When designing the rotation, the movements of the job tasks must be carefully reviewed to ensure that the jobs don’t require similar movements. For instance, one job station may require more fine motor skills of the fingers with the neck and head posture flexed. The next job station may not have the flexed neck and head posture as the task requires raised arms, yet will still require a fair amount of fine motor skills of the fingers. These two job stations may not want to be considered in a back to back rotation. The amount of time spent using fine motor skills and the amount of force required to accomplish those tasks will be key components in deciding how close together those two work stations will fit in a job rotation.
b. Consider the time a worker will spend in a work station. Many companies are trying to limit workers in a job station to one hour. This is especially for tasks where awkward postures or highly repetitive movements are involved. And, although this limited time rotation may appear to decrease the overall productivity in the assembly line, metrics needs to measured: quality of product, worker soft tissue complaints, days off from work and worker morale, are just four metrics to measure before and after.
c. Get input from employees that have actually worked the various jobs and tasks. Workers offer valuable information and insight into the nuances of tasks that can be overlooked or viewed as insignificant to those who do not perform those tasks.
2.) Delegate as much autonomy and ownership to the worker and work station as possible. For example, provide sit-to-stand stools that will allow workers to choose when to change postural positions. Adding a foot rest is also an excellent option. These ideas are not new, nor are they expensive, but are sometimes forgotten solutions.
3.) When standing or walking on concrete for entire shifts, proper shoes, insoles or floor mats are highly important. Standing/walking on hard surfaces increases muscle fatigue, which in turn can cause changes in gait and how the foot strikes the ground. Over time, various discomforts, from foot pain, ankle pain, knee, hip or back pain can result. Therefore, spending the money and effort on good shoes with proper insoles can help to offset some of these types of complaints and potential problems.
4.) Offering onsite first aid massage that is specific for restoration of tissue gliding. Most people are unaware of relatively new evidence that our tissues glide and slide over and around one another rather than stretch like rubber bands. Techniques such as first aid massage assist to restore better movement patterns and synchronicity of muscle groups.

Bibliography
Improved Ergonomics for Standing Work -- Occupational Health & Safety. (2003, April 1). Retrieved from Occupational Health and Safety: https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2003/04/Improved-Ergonomics-for-Standing-Work.aspx?p=1[11/10/2015 12:48:36 PM]
Isa HALIM1, A. R. (2012). Assessment of Muscle Fatigue Associated with Prolonged Standing in the Workplace. Safety and Health at Work, 31-42.
Omar2, I. H. (2011). A REVIEW ON HEALTH EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH PROLONGED STANDING IN THE INDUSTRIAL WORKPLACES . International Journal of Recent Research of Applied Sciences, 14-20.
Tu¨chsen, H. B. (2005). Prolonged Standing at Work and Hospitalization due to Varicose Veins: a 12 year prospective study of the Danish population. Occupational Environmental Medicine, 847-850.