Introduction Discharging a container/trailer is physically very stressful. This study describes a multidisciplinary and solutions oriented approach in a newly constructed Distribution Centre (DC).
Methods The setting is the European DC of a sports brand with 2,205 Belgian operators. The project is focused on innovative solutions for the area where the receiving of footwear is done. Repetitive movements and lifting resulted in musculoskeletal complaints that were reported to the occupational physician via the yearly Nordic Musculoskeletal questionnaire surveillance.
The ergonomist implemented the following four-step multidisciplinary approach:
Risk stratification (employee, equipment, environment, product and organisation)
External workload evaluation (task analysis/observation, Key Indicator Method (KIM), ISO 11228 standard, noise and illumination)
Internal physical workload examination (heart rate)
Participatory subjective work perception index
Results The important results of the external workload evaluation are described below:
Observation. The ergonomic ‘manrider’ tool needs additional ergonomic improvements.
KIM. Women doing the receiving for 3.5 to 7.25 hours scored 55: ‘Heavy workload: physical overload is likely. Workplace re–design is necessary.’ Men scored 45: ‘Strongly increased workload; physical overload is possible. Workplace re–design is recommended.’
ISO 11228. The recommended weight limit (RWL) at the end of the shift for men/women with a height of 148 cm was 2.03; for women with a height of 180 cm, the RWL was 1.99; and for men with a height of 195 cm, the RWL was 1.98. The Lift–Index for these groups was 3.46, 3.53 and 3.55, respectively, resulting in a higher risk for lower back pain.
Illumination at the end of the trailer was 192 and 308 lux. At the end of the container, 32.1, 11.7, 11, 11.3 and 43.3 lux was measured. The NBN–EN 12464–1 standard for illumination (minimum 200 lux) was insufficiently achieved.
Discussion A multidisciplinary approach is recommended to optimise ergonomic work conditions.
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