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Upper limb disorders in a factory environment

Operatives in a company making pre-prepared pasta dishes had to pick up rectangles of pasta from a delivery conveyor and place them into foil trays on a narrow conveyor. This job involved 8 hour shifts and was carried out standing in front of the conveyor. The job was highly repetitive and involved extreme reaching to pick up pasta layers from the row furthest away. The weights involved were very low.

After a routine inspection and consultation with employees, the employer and safety representatives, it was agreed that changes needed to be made to this task. After consulting a specialist, it was agreed the main area that needed attention was the distance that workers had to reach to get the pasta layer from the row furthest away.

This involved

Under these conditions all four rows of pasta were within 450mm of the operator in the red zone shown above.

Advice

Always consider how people of different heights and reach are able to do a job. Ensure there is sufficient clearance space available for larger people and that smaller people can adequately reach things.

Involving the workforce can often lead to simple but effective solutions.

Remember to ensure that the pace of the work is properly controlled (eg by conveyor speed and placement of product on the conveyor).

Other considerations

Provision of seating: some workers may be more comfortable in a seated position, depending on the task.

Anti-fatigue mats: may be useful if staff have to stand in the same position for long periods of time

Updated 2014-04-15