Workplace accidents - How to reduce the risk

June 12, 2018

Workplace accidents result in serious costs for factories, therefore it is important to pay highlighted attention to ergonomics when designing different working environments.


The most valuable assets – the people themselves.

It is not an exaggeration, no matter how advanced robotized technology is, human power and knowledge is - for the time being, and presumably for a very long time - inevitable for tasks requiring mental and physical work. However, a person is more vulnerable and more difficult to replace than a robot set for special situations, therefore it is of great importance to take care of the workers. This is the reason why the ergonomically designed work environment is so important, because it can greatly reduce the risk of various injuries and illnesses.


The most common problem is back pain


Certainly, every job has its own risks. One can get tendonitis while sitting in the office if the chair, table, keyboard and mouse are positioned incorrectly, also with an uncomfortable chair back pain occurrence is unavoidable. The latter is one of the most common problems, it can occur both while doing mental or physical work. In the United States, for example, eighty percent of the employees had already had back pain problem - which is a $ 100 billion-problem each year.

In addition, a significant number of the accidents can be attributed to the incorrect design of machines and to the development of wrong work environment.


Bad posture, excessive effort, manual material handling and high frequency repetitive movements are all threats. Bad posture may, among many other illnesses, lead to back and lower back pain. Excessive effort can cause a variety of muscular injuries, and repetitive stress affecting the bones can cause fatigue-induced fractures. Additionally, it is important to pay attention to how often and how much weight the workers have to raise above their shoulders or how often they must bend, as these movements have an impact on the arm, the back and the waist.


Often the inappropriate environment causes the problem


When designing machines and creating a working environment, physical and psychological characteristics of the operators have to be taken into consideration, because besides inappropriate design, human error is the other common cause of accidents. According to an American survey, process design results 24, staffing related issues 22, structural problems, as well as training and preparation shortfalls 20-20, leadership issues and planning problems 9-9 percent of workplace accidents.

Furthermore, employers and employees are often unaware that the machines they use and the working environment they are exposed to are unsafe. Unfortunately, companies often try to cut costs by not spending money on ergonomics, even if this investment is worthwhile in the long run, as it brings healthy and satisfied employees.


Of course, it is worth reviewing which are the most common injuries. If you are aware of the circumstances which can cause them, it is easier to act in order to prevent them.


Most frequent workplace accidents


The most common injuries result from overloading, caused by the movement of heavy loads and lifting objects too high. Furthermore, work losses due to these accidents lead to serious costs. This is typically the case where ergonomics can be a great help. If the working environment is designed properly, the height of the devices has been well set, is easier to avoid these strenuous movements. As a matter of fact, there are more and more special robots which can assist in these specific workflows.


Injuries resulting from different falls are also common. For example, someone might slip on wet floor, or fall from height, or get to the floor while doing work. This is the reason, why it is important to maintain the working environment properly, to use the necessary security tools, and to let employees know what's going on around them and provide enough space for their movements. Besides these above, it is also important that the machines have enough space for operation and it has to be clear what the danger factors are at the different zones of the factory area.


These were the most commonly occurring injuries and their occurrence can be reduced with the appropriate care, ergonomic design, as well as serious preliminary planning - made either by digital methods or by producing one-on-one test instances.


Other workplace injuries


There are, however, other dangers, typical injuries, which are also listed among the common problems. Banal accidents, for example, when someone stumbles while walking, bumps into an object, and suffers head, knee, neck or foot injury. The various traffic accidents are also unfortunate situations, which have two main types. The first type is when company employees suffer a car accident on the road – these are often very severe - and the second is when the accident takes place on the working area on factory premises. For example, it might happen that a forklift hits someone or, due to negligence, the workers get injured while being in contact with a work assisting robot.


We have not yet mentioned a special case, when the employees are dealing with dangerous substances in a particular factory. In such places ever bigger than usual attention should be paid to the use of protective equipment, because burns or breathing difficulties can cause permanent damages.


All in all, it requires serious attention – both from the employer and the employee’s side -  to avoid injuries, which cannot be completely eliminated, but with appropriate design and training their number and risk can significantly be reduced. And the most valuable assets of the manufacturing process, the people themselves, can be taken care of.


ViveLab Ergo is a cloud-based ergonomic lab for modeling objects, machines and human beings moving together in a virtual 3D space. Thanks to its massive anthropometric database and 7 built-in ergonomic analyses it precisely simulates, analyzes and validates human interactions with industrial and other environments. With the help of the ViveLab Ergo the ergonomic analysis of constructions is possible in the planning phase without prototype production by simulation in the virtual space.

Our mission is to provide fast and accurate three-dimensional virtual ergonomic tests, analysis and planning for wide range of companies to create optimal working environments and workflows for health, efficiency and competitiveness.

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