By Melissa Lloyd, ANAD Safety OfficeAugust 8, 2018
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Here at Anniston Army Depot, we move tanks and small arms in and around the installation during the process of making them better than new and preparing them to go return to the Soldier in the field.
There's a lot of work involved to get this important work done.
We use a variety of material movement equipment, including ourselves, to get the job done.
One of the greatest opportunities for improvement is the incorporation of engineering, ergonomics, Lean, safety and quality into everything we do with regard to material movement and handling.
This is particularly important because it allows the depot to improve processes, along with having safer operations.
Every day, everyone at the depot has the right to work safely and effectively, leaving ANAD the way they arrived, injury free with all capabilities intact.
However, last fiscal year, ANAD employees had 36 overexertion injuries/illnesses which were considered Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordable.
This accounted for 39 percent of total injuries.
Overexertion injuries occur from activities such as lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, bending, crawling, carrying, reaching, twisting, climbing, standing or walking.
Of those injuries, 72 percent were directly related to material handling and tool use.
These types of injuries are usually caused by someone attempting to "get the job done."
Even though that is a great attitude to have, there is usually a better way to do the job which eliminates the hazard causing the injury/illness.
Overexertion injuries and illnesses often lead to musculoskeletal disorders. MSDs are injuries such as pinched nerves, herniated discs, sprains, strains, tears, hernias, pain, swelling and numbness.
These are serious conditions which can have long term effects on life and freedom of movement.
This isn't just something impacting your job or depot operations, this can, and will, impact your quality of life forever.
According to a report from the National Safety Council, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for up to half of all injuries resulting in days away from work, job restrictions or job transfers.
This impacts thousands of workers each year, many of whom have families depending on them for their livelihood.
Do not be afraid to raise questions or concerns to your leadership and, as always, the Safety Office and Industrial Hygiene are available for help as needed.
PREVENTING OVEREXERTION INJURIES
There are many things we can do to help prevent these types of injuries:
AS AN EMPLOYEE, we should communicate with our supervisors if tasks require us:
• To be in awkward positions
• To use tools necessitating unreasonable force
• To use equipment which causes repetitive problems (certain vibrating tools, for example)
Processes or procedures which place an employee in an uncomfortable posture or which are dangerous should be altered.
Employees must communicate with supervisors, so they understand all safety concerns and have the opportunity to make adjustments to the work, as possible, to help each employee do their job effectively, efficiently and safely.
Also, use appropriate lifting techniques.
Just because you are able to lift 40 pounds on your own doesn't mean you should.
If something is awkward to lift, it will likely be hard to lift in the correct manner, causing strain on parts of the body that are not meant to handle that type of exertion.
The bottom line is you, as an employee, know the job you do better than anyone. You understand the work to be completed.
If you think a process could be improved using a different tool or lifting technique/device, let your leadership know.
If the tools or process required is causing undue stress on your body, you need to make the leadership aware.
Many times, there are different ways to do the job -- ergonomic changes that can be made to a work-station making it more efficient and less strenuous, engineering solutions which might make the job more efficient and safer or tools/equipment the depot can order which help you do your job easier and more effectively.
It's all about us working together to make procedures safer, more efficient and effective.
It takes all of us, working together, to make our jobs safer.
AS SUPERVISORS, it's important to communicate safety concerns with your employees.
Walk the floor or have leaders walk the floor to ensure employees are using the appropriate tools and the correct material handling equipment is available.
Ensure employees are using lifting guidelines.
ANAD has a blanket policy requiring a two-man lift for anything 45 pounds or heavier, but there is likely a better way to maneuver or handle heavy items that will allow for a hoist or crane to be used to move that part as needed.
Take note when employees present concerns about something uncomfortable in their workstation or possible improvements to moving materials.
When employees are involved and engaged in the improvement process, they will be more likely to adhere to changes and more apt to bring up concerns in the future.