25 September 2018 Work environment ergonomics? An indispensable aspect for every productive reality
Ergonomics and safety have always been vital and indispensable themes for every productive reality since safer, well-ordered productive lines and plants with proper spaces and lower risk work stations bring to greater added value operating methods with more competitive labor and finished product costs, besides to a work quality fundamental to the worker’s health.
Ergonomics and regulations
The technical definition of ergonomics says: “scientific discipline that deals with the interaction between man and the other elements of a system and then formulates principles, data and methods for daily work”.
In ergonomics, work conditions adapt to users and not vice versa. In particular, the following must be adapted:
- work environment (lighting, climate and sound conditions) to concrete physical requirements;
- work requirements to concrete personal skills;
- use interface of machinery and systems to the user’s physical and mental characteristics;
- work hours to the particular worker’s conditions;
- work type and rhythm to individual abilities.
All these themes are present in Decree-Law 81/2008 that has the purpose of improving people’s health and safety in the workplace. The employer must do everything he/she can so as not to harm the worker’s health, even organizing the work and station ergonomically (Decree-Law 81/08 art. 71, par. 6). In particular, he/she must provide facilities and arrange the workplaces taking into account the interaction of man with systems, tools, machinery and structures.
For the purpose of the regulations, all companies must apply their prevention and protection measures and choose for example: fair work equipment designed in compliance with ergonomic principles, suitable maintenance programs and adequate workers’ information and training.
The risks in the industrial tightening world
One of the most frequent risks connected to the lack of attention to ergonomics in the workplace is worker’s fatigue. In the world of industrial tightening, worker’s fatigue is connected with the tool used, with how the operations are performed and with the time the operator dedicates to these operations. Among the main aspects on which we must pay attention there are: the effort required to start the tool, the push needed to perform the tightening, the reaction on the hand when the established torque is reached, the weight and the balance of the tool, the type of handle and its adequacy to the work area.
Fiam has always been active in the UNI-CEN International Labor Commissions, responsible for the drafting of harmonized technical standards that guide the technological development of manual tools in general and continuously innovates its own solutions, starting from ergonomics and safety for operators.
In addition to tools and tightening systems designed according to the principles of ergonomics and that naturally comply with the provisions of the regulations, Fiam also designs and manufactures fundamental auxiliary accessories to guarantee safety and less fatigue for workers and to make the work station appropriate. The operator must in fact have available the tools and the components to be assembled in a convenient, practical and correct way. Workstations, appliances and auxiliary equipment must be designed and arranged in such a way that, by carrying out repetitive tasks, the operator’s body and its parts remain in their medium-moving space, so as to avoid incongruous positions.
A valid aid in this sense is represented by the ergonomic arms that:
- cancel the force in supporting the tool;
- absorb the tool backlash on the operator’s hand due to the torque;
- cancel the vibrations emitted by the tools;
- allow to maintain a good wrist position;
- allow a quick and immediate grip of the tool;
- ensure a good perpendicularity of the tool at the point of work;
- also provide the use of poka yoke systems that facilitate the operator and relieve him from the constraint of continuous control of the machine.
For example, the new BT-MG telescopic arms (http://bit.ly/2oyZSKr), the last born in Fiam’s R & D department, in addition to fully responding to the above-mentioned characteristics, have many other important advantages. Let’s see them together.
They are made of magnesium alloy – which is widely used in various industrial sectors, from automotive to aeronautics, to biomechanics – because:
- it is 30% lighter than aluminium and guarantees greater handling ease;
- it has a high resistance to ageing and impact;
- has superb qualities of vibration damping and electro-magnetic screening;
- it has good resistance over time as well as corrosion thanks to the «alodine»® treatment;
- it is a fully recyclable material, biocompatible with human contact and therefore ecological.
The other important advantage offered by these magnesium arms is that they can be equipped with a position detection device useful for increasing the efficiency and speed of the production cycle: the system in fact facilitates the operator as he is guided in the tightening operations; when the screwdriver is at the exact point where the screw is positioned, the operator is warned by OK LEDs and only then the screwdriver starts working and can proceed with the tightening.
When the first screw is tightened correctly, the system enables the second position and so on according to the programmed sequences.
Fiam solutions are therefore safe and ergonomic in every aspect and customers can also count on an accurate support service on ergonomics based on:
- the choice of the correct tool according to the application and the workplace;
- the evaluation for the use of any ergonomic accessories that minimize the incidence of risk factors (eg auxiliary handles and ergonomic arms);
- the test of the compliance with the correct methods of use by operators through supervision activities and possible training.
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