Ergonomics is an important consideration in the workplace, especially for physically demanding palletizing tasks.
A poorly designed palletizing process can cause a variety of physical injuries to employees, including back pain, slips and falls, and even broken bones.
But palletizing ergonomics isn’t just about the physical safety of employees. It can also have some surprising benefits for employees’ mental health.
By improving the ergonomics of your end-of-line processes, you can reduce the number of days lost to worker injuries and mental health issues.
From reducing stress and anxiety to making people’s jobs more rewarding, there are significant benefits to viewing pallet creation through an ergonomic lens.
With the right approach, you can make palletizing a valuable asset rather than a potential risk.
What is ergonomics and why is it important in the workplace
Ergonomics is the study of how people physically interact with their environment and how it affects their efficiency at work. Workers often put long hours into their jobs, so small changes to their environment can make a big difference to their health in the long run.
In jobs with physically demanding tasks – such as end-of-line packing – ergonomics is very important. This can help reduce the risk of injury and illness among employees.
With a task like manual palletizing, there’s a congenital risk of musculoskeletal disorders. This is a cumulative injury caused by stress on the body from repeatedly moving the body into awkward positions, and lifting heavy weights.
When you prioritize the ergonomics of the palletizing process and monitor the impact of your changes over time, you can significantly reduce the risk to workers.
The role of palletizing and packaging ergonomics on worker safety
Despite the simplicity of palletizing, it can be a very dangerous task.
When people do not take adequate care, even a pallet can cause injury. According to a studyAn astounding 30,493 people were sent to the emergency room for injuries involving pallets at home and retail locations, between 2014 and 2028 alone.
This is a consumer related injury, in an environment where people can avoid interacting with pallets. When your job involves interacting with pallets, you can’t avoid it.
There is various causes of this hazard including:
Pallets and their cargo can be heavy when stacked. Any instability could cause heavy items to fall on people.
Loading and unloading pallets involves stretching and bending to reach goods from multiple angles and sides, causing people to place their bodies in unsafe positions.
- Lifting heavy objects is one of the most common risks in any job, which is common in palletizing.
When you design your palletizing process, you can reduce hazards to your employees by taking ergonomics into account.
Risks associated with improper handling of pallets
Pallet handling is part of the job (over 1.3 million people in warehouse and storage environments in the US alone.
When workers handle pallets improperly, it can cause various kinds of injuries.
Back injuries are probably the most common injuries. They can occur due to repetitive palletizing movements, including lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying heavy boxes. Back injuries can be minor – like a minor muscle strain – or severe enough to end a person’s working life.
Slips and falls are another common hazard associated with pallet handling. Slippery floors can cause serious accidents, especially when workers are in a hurry due to lack of time.
All physical injuries can harm the mental health of workers. Whether they are forced to take time off or struggle to get their job done efficiently, the injury can affect how they feel about themselves and their job for a long time.
5 surprising benefits of palletizing ergonomics on employee mental health
You might not expect it, but Better workplace ergonomics can improve employee mental health.
Here’s how better palletizing ergonomics can impact mental health:
1. Reducing stress and anxiety
Poor ergonomics can cause fatigue and physical strain for workers, which makes their jobs more stressful. Even if injuries don’t affect their productivity, this low morale can.
A focus on palletizing ergonomics can help workers feel less stressed and anxious.
2. Improved mood and energy levels
Making palettes is a tedious and repetitive task. This can become very tiring for workers, ruining their mood at work and reducing their energy and drive to succeed.
An effective solution to improve the ergonomics of palletizing is adding palletizing robots. This can improve mood and energy levels, as well as more motivation to work. We recently presented such an example in our latest case study on Cascade Coffee.
3. Improved focus and productivity
When coupled with palletizing automation, ergonomics can help employees stay more focused and productive in their jobs.
By reducing the repetitive motions associated with palletizing, you increase the intellectual stimulation of work people so they are more likely to engage with their work.
4. Fewer days off from work
We’ve talked before about how robotic automation helps reduce 35% of sick days associated with musculoskeletal disorders.
Making your palletizing process more ergonomic also allows you to reduce work days lost due to injuries and reduce employee healthcare costs.
5. Increased job satisfaction and lower turnover
When you make people’s jobs safer and less boring, you also help increase their job satisfaction.
This increase also means that people are less likely to leave their jobs, reducing employee turnover problems.
How to minimize risk with robot palletizing solutions
What is the best way to reduce the ergonomics problems associated with manual palletizing?
While there are many steps you can take, one of the most effective is removing the manual palletizing task completely from the hands of your workers.
By using a a good robotic palletizing solutionYou can move people to tasks that are more rewarding in their jobs, improve palletizing consistency, and virtually eliminate the potential mental health problems caused by manual palletizing.