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Order picking and the human body: How to reduce injuries and strain

Written by Bengt Kristiansson, 2019-01-03
picking-weights

Everyone could easily lift a package weighing a few kilograms, but what if you had to pick that same package hundreds of times a day, over the course of weeks and months, possibly from hard-to-reach places? You’d probably start feeling the strain quite quickly, and you’d end up hoping you had some equipment or solution to make the job easier.

This is what order pickers do, but unfortunately the strain and injury that can occur in this job over long periods is still not as well-known as it could be.

In the illustration above, you see the average maximum safe carrying weights, and how they vary based on where they are carried. Picking a 25kg package which is close to the body, at waist height? Most people would be able to handle this without problems. Lifting that same package from a much further distance, around knee height, is quite different — the risk of injury to the back is quite high, especially if the movement is repeated many times.

These kinds of risks can be reduced via changes to the warehouse environment. Things like:

  • Raising the pallets on level 1 around 20cm from the floor.
  • Installing pallet racking drawers if the goods are heavy, so pickers don’t need to reach into the racking.
  • Using order pickers with rising forks, so picked goods can be placed down at a comfortable height.
  • If there is a lot of picking, placing pallets with the long side towards the picker can also reduce the reach distance.

A lot of effort and strain can be saved if items are easy to reach and placed at a comfortable height. Making changes like these can boost productivity, and ultimately boost your bottom line, as well as benefiting the pickers themselves.

These ergonomic tweaks don’t stop there, however. If you want to learn about some more possibilities, and see an illustration of how they can actually save money in a simulated materials handling operation, click the button below to get our free guide, Improving driver safety and productivity in the warehouse.

Start boosting your bottom line

Topics: Ergonomics Guides Safety

Bengt Kristiansson

Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing

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