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Evaluating a Lift Assist

The Problem

Manufacturing plumbing fixtures is very labor-intensive, as it requires multiple toilet fixture lifts throughout the casting, coating, and finishing processes.  For the company we worked with, manual handling of these 57 lb 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.  To evaluate the effectiveness of this hoist in reducing injury risk, a team from SRI-Ergonomics asked experienced employees to wear a Lumbar Motion Monitor (LMM) as they performed job tasks both with and without the hoist.

LMM 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 moving forward.