Pushing is a Pain

posted on: Friday November 16, 2012

If you’re pushing product or parts around a warehouse floor all day, you’re probably sore when you get home. If you’ve been doing the same job for years, soreness may have graduated to pain. It may be a burning pain in one of your muscles or an unexpected shooting pain as soon as you move just right. If you’ve had pain for a while, it may have evolved into a dull and constant ache accompanied by stiffness or joints that lock up. Your pain may have progressed from showing up after a shift to constantly waking up with pain. These are not signs that your muscles are getting stronger. They are actually getting weaker. If you’re developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), your job may also be at risk.

Work-related MSDs are extremely common, especially with material handlers and health care workers. These injuries include things like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, and repetitive stress injuries. They are multitudinous amongst those who do repetitive physical work every day. This is such a problem that our nation actually spends more on work-related injuries every year than we do on cancer. Fortunately, this has the attention of OSHA, NIOSH, The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, doctors, safety committees, and many other experts. Ergonomics has been in our lives (and sometimes in our faces) for many years now. With all this attention on MSDs and all these years of ergonomics, why is this still such a big problem?

Work-related injuries have been documented all the way back into the 1500’s. Surely they’ve existed since there has been work to do and man to do it. For as long as there have been injuries to incur, man has tried to avoid them. We have forever been trying to figure out the easiest, fastest, most productive ways to accomplish tasks in the least likely way to hurt ourselves. Comparing jobs today to even just 30 years ago, we can see how our knowledge, understanding, and ergonomics have evolved. However, that doesn’t mean that it will ever stop evolving.

An example of ergonomic evolution is all the pushing and pulling tasks in the industries. Pushing and pulling replaced a lot of lifting and carrying. Lifting and carrying were extremely likely to result in injury, so the world of ergonomics automated some of it and put some more of it on wheels. The result, of course, was fewer lifting and carrying injuries. However, an unanticipated consequence was the sudden rise in injuries caused by pushing and pulling. Now overexertion from pushing and pulling is one of the leading causes of work-related MSDs. The median number of missed work days from these injuries is over 20. The costs to employee and employer vary from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In some cases, employees are left debilitated and unable to return to work. Obviously, ergonomics experts didn’t shrug and say, “Oh well” to this problem. They continue evolving ergonomics to reduce stress caused by pushing and pulling.

There are many alternatives to manually pushing and pulling wheeled carts. Electric powered tugs take the brunt of pushing and pulling forces. Like general ergonomics, this kind of equipment needs to evolve to become as efficient as possible. A more evolved version of this equipment is the Load Mover. It maneuvers and handles easily, with safer features, and is built to handle heavier loads. It also allows more work to be done with less risk or injury to production personnel.

If you’re tired of pushing something around a warehouse and concerned about the effects it has on your body, battery powered electric tugs may be a good fit for your company.

For information on a Load Mover, visit http://www.LoadMoverInc.com/.