Performing vehicle service can be physically demanding, especially when working with tires. Many older technicians can tell you that the years of heavy lifting, bending and strain can take its toll on one’s physical health over time.
To minimize the likelihood of injury and pain, it’s important to keep proper form and keep ergonomics top of mind to reduce pain, strain and injury in the process of doing your job.
Ergonomics is all about having the job fit the person instead of making the person strain to fit the job. Even the smallest adjustment in design, equipment and approach can help prevent injury.
Considerations for workplace ergonomics include four core areas: physical factors; environmental conditions, such as lighting and temperature; the job performed and its repetition over time; and the tools used for the task.
On the shop floor, fitness matters. There is a right way and a wrong way to do certain physically challenging tasks on the shop floor. Train yourself and your team on the recommended approach. The right ergonomics can keep you safe.
For instance, back injuries are common during the repair process, so it’s important to protect your back from unnecessary strain.
When lifting batteries or other heavy objects from the engine compartment of a vehicle, lean into the vehicle, pressing your thighs against the fender. Then lift the object with both hands. Don’t reach. Keep your elbows close to your body and turn using your feet, not at your waist.
Lower the item onto a bench or workstation using your arms to lower it; don’t bend at your waist. Move the object to work bench and lower onto bench. Use arms to lower, and do not bend at waist. When inspecting under the dash, use mirrors. No need to get into an awkward position or twist your body to get under there –-- use inspection mirrors instead.
The main point is to avoid strain wherever possible. Take a moment and think about the task at hand before you begin working on it. Consider the tasks you do most often and how to reduce any strain. Above all, pay attention to your body. If you’re tired or sore, consider ways to adjust the task or use the better tools to minimize the strain so not to cause further aggravation or worsen the condition.