Health hazard evaluation report: HETA-2006-0239-3040, General Electric Aviation, Engine Services Distribution Center, Erlanger, Kentucky.
On May 9, 2006, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request for a health hazard evaluation from the Voluntary Protection Program coordinator at the General Electric Aviation (GE) Engine Services Distribution Center in Erlanger, Kentucky. The request stated that 88 material handlers who pick and or package jet aircraft engine parts may be at risk of strained backs, pulled shoulders, and twisted knees from performing their jobs. On May 26, 2006, NIOSH investigators held an opening conference with representatives of GE management and United Auto Workers Local 647, followed by a walk-through of the work areas to observe some of the typical receiving, order picking and parts packaging tasks. On June 27, 2006, and July 20, 2006, we delivered medical questionnaires and viewed job tasks not performed during the initial visit. A closing conference was conducted on the latter date. The ergonomics evaluation indicated that the most common risk factors for the development of musculoskeletal disorders were bending and reaching to pick parts, store parts, and ship parts. There were also some areas where heavy lifting of parts was a risk factor. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses review indicated that five workers reported musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremity, knee, and low back for the years 2003-2005. Results of the questionnaire indicated that 55% of 73 workers who participated were experiencing pain or discomfort in one or more body parts. Overall, workers were satisfied with working conditions, equipment and information provided to them, and supervisory support. NIOSH investigators conclude that a health hazard exists at the GE Engine Services Distribution Center due to the unassisted lifting of heavy objects in the receiving and assembly areas and bending and reaching to store, retrieve and ship parts at the facility. Recommendations for reducing the risk of injury are contained in this report, including the use of portable lifting equipment and improved workplace design.