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Success with Ergonomics
American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) and
Pulp and Paper Safety Association (PPSA)

 
Company: AF&PA member company
   
Industry: Containerboard Packaging NAICS Code: 32221, Paper and Allied Products SIC Code: 26
   
Employees: 145

Success Brief: A container board packaging company made several improvements to its process for stacking and palletizing bundles of flat corrugated boxes formed by a rotary dies stacker by modifying or eliminating manual tasks and providing additional training.
 

The Problem

A container board packing company used a rotary die cut stacker to stack flat corrugated boxes. An employee working at the rotary die cut stacker experienced some upper body discomfort and soreness, some pain in the shoulder, and some swelling in the left hand. The job was reviewed and two manual tasks were identified as candidates for improvement.

One task required the employee to flip over every other bundle of corrugated boxes to meet customer requirements. The bundles weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, and the task had to be repeated every 20 to 30 seconds. Performing this task increased the amount of upper body repetitive motion associated with the rotary die cut stacker job.

The second task required the employee to slide the bundles, from the stacker outfeed conveyor to the load former, which forms pallets of corrugated boxes. This task required the employee to perform an awkward pushing/pulling maneuver that had to be repeated every 10 to 15 seconds.

 
The Solution

The review of these job tasked that included employee involvement lead to several ergonomic-related process improvements had a positive impact on employees and company:
  1. The company worked with its customer to eliminate the requirement to flip every other bundle. This modification eliminated the repetitive motion associated with this task.
  2. The company purchased and installed an air table (see photo) to substantially reduce the force required for employees to transfer the bundles from the stacker outfeed conveyor to the load former.
  3. The company trained the employees working with the rotary dies cut stacker about the proper body mechanics to move the bundles.
  4. The company updated its job safety analysis and safe operating procedure to reflect the changes to the stacking job.
 
Air table used to transfer the bundles from the stacker outfeed conveyor to the load former
Air table used to transfer bundles from the stacker outfeed conveyor to the load former
 

The Impact

Since these ergonomics improvements were made in May 2004, there have been no reported ergonomics concerns from any of the 12 employees working on the rotary die cut stacker.

Source: AF&PA; PPSA (October 2006)