April 25, 2024

NIOSH Suggests Ergonomic Controls in Warehouse Health Hazard Evaluation Report

NIOSH has released its report of a health hazard evaluation (HHE) conducted at a logistics agency in Georgia in response to employees’ concerns about ergonomics and musculoskeletal injuries (PDF). During a site visit in January 2019, NIOSH evaluators observed workplace processes, practices, and conditions and interviewed 43 of the facility’s 492 employees, including distribution process workers, material examiners, material identifiers, and work leaders. Most workstations at the facility were not designed to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), the agency’s report states. Employees whose job tasks involved lifting frequently reported back pain. Shoulder pain was reported among employees whose tasks included loading and unloading triwall containers and packing items at workstations.

The report includes a list of NIOSH-recommended actions that the logistics agency can take to reduce employees’ risks for MSDs, starting with improving workstation ergonomics. “The best way to prevent and control work-related musculoskeletal disorders is through design,” NIOSH states. “Job tasks, workstations, and tools and other equipment should be designed to match the physical capabilities of the employee.” Potential ergonomic controls for this logistics facility include providing conveyor belts that accommodate employees of different heights, workstations that adjust for sitting and standing, pallets for large items, antifatigue mats for employees who usually stand while working, and replacements for broken chairs. NIOSH also recommends that the employer seek regular input from workers to guide improvements to work conditions, such as through an ergonomics committee, and encourage workers to report work-related health concerns.

More information may be found in NIOSH’s report, which can be downloaded as a PDF from the agency’s HHE report library.