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Room for improvement evident when it comes to ergonomics.

Estill CF; McGlothlin J
Appl Manuf 1997 Dec; :264, 261-262
Reducing the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders among workers in the appliance industry was discussed, and the magnitude of the musculoskeletal injury problem in the appliance industry was reviewed. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the appliance industry ranks 15th among the 25 United States industries with the largest number of job related illnesses due to cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). The current CTD incidence rate is about 2,600 cases per 100,000 fulltime workers. Common CTDs among appliance industry workers include tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and back and shoulder pain. Engineering control recommendations for reducing the risks of CTDs and other musculoskeletal injuries in appliance industry workers were discussed. The recommendations were derived from the results of a NIOSH survey of appliance manufacturing facilities representing six companies that produced washers, dryers, ranges, refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, and microwave ovens. The packaging and assembly departments of the facilities were found to have the highest CTD incidence rates, followed by the fabrication, painting, and plumbing departments. The recommendations addressed musculoskeletal problems associated with packaging and wiring appliances and appliance assembly tasks in which hand tools were used. In packaging, lifting and handling cardboard containers for crating appliances presented a risk of back injuries and bending cardboard protectors in the containers presented a risk for hand and wrist injuries. Recommended solutions included eliminating or reducing handling of the containers if possible. If not possible, placing workers on adjustable platforms and using lift tables was recommended. Using containers with preformed cardboard corners was suggested as a means to reduce the hand or wrist injury risk. Having to wire appliances using a fast work time and making forceful movements presented a significant CTD risk. Solutions included encouraging manufacturers to produce appliances with low insertion force terminals for wiring and providing the workers with ergonomically designed wiring tools. It was also recommended that the working height be adjusted so that the workers would not have to stoop when attaching wires near the bottom of appliances. Some hand tools used in appliance assembly were poorly designed requiring awkward wrist/hand postures or high forces to operate. Representative recommended solutions included changing the design of pneumatic tools so that the air is supplied from on top instead of from the traditional in line configuration, providing tools with slip resistant handles, and instructing the workers to use the same single finger to activate tool triggers.
Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Industrial-factory-workers; Risk-factors; Control-methods; Industrial-safety; Epidemiology; Injury-prevention; Hand-tools; Ergonomics; Work-practices;
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Upper Extremities; Disease and Injury; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders;
Source Name
Appliance Manufacturer
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division