Ergonomic Stupidity

Ergonomics is such a scam. No matter how much money we throw at buying expensive equipment that’s supposed to make our lives on the job less physically demanding, we end up with machines and tooling that often require more effort to use. We’d be better off without the shit. Part of the problem is people who believe in ergonomics as a philosophy live by the idea that with the right ergo approach anyone can do any job without injury. This isn’t true. A common sense approach has to be taken not to put employees with physical limitations into jobs that require constant repetitive motion and/or heavy lifting. Put those folks into less demanding work. It’s so easy to do and everyone ends up happier. Sure, you can spend tens of thousands of dollars purchasing pneumatic torque drivers, electric lifts, infinitely adjustable desk chairs, and all kinds of other space-age wizz bang gadgets. That won’t stop some employees from being careless or stupid and getting themselves hurt.

In the environmental lab our department has made a rather large and expensive investment in ergonomic equipment. Virtually all of it remains unused. I guess management’s fear is that someone *may* need it at some point. I found most of the electric lifts and other gear to be a hindrance that actually made my daily work more time consuming and difficult. Greasy Guy doesn’t need any of it either so we’ve pushed that crap off to the side of our chamber area where it collects plenty of dust. Now that we’ve got another helper working with us some of that equipment is being hauled out of mothballs.

Ruth is our third assistant that was recently sent back here to help us out. Problem is, Ruth happens to be in bad health. She’s had a bunch of fairly serious medical problems over the last couple of years. So she’s not able to do a whole hell of a lot physically. Ruth should be doing easy stuff through the workday like running boxes at forward flow test stations. Out there all she has to do is hook up cables and push units around from test rack to test rack. No big deal. Back here she’s got to somehow manage to lift four instruments up and into temperature chambers. Each unit weighs about a hundred pounds. The other thing about Ruth that will make her time here worse is she’s really short. I’m over six feet tall and the temperature chambers come up to my waist when the door is open. For Ruth, that interior space comes up to her chest.

She’s been trying to use the ergo equipment but it isn’t helping her much. Myself, Mr. McConvict, or Greasy Guy constantly have to stop what we’re doing to place a box onto the electric ergo forklift for her. Then she swivels the unit and pushes into the chamber with it. Again, one of us has to take that instrument off the lift and drop it onto the chamber floor. That’s slowing everything down even more. It’s easier for me to just grab four boxes and muscle them into the chamber one at a time. And once the tests are running there really isn’t anything for Ruth to do so she’s been sitting around bored out of her mind. I swear our supervisors are so retarded sometimes when it comes to who they choose to work in certain areas.

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~ by factorypeasant on July 7, 2006.

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