Ergonomics Series: Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders at Food Distribution Centers

Over 1.4 million cases: that is how many non-fatal musculoskeletal disorders and injuries have occurred in the private industry that required days off from work. Among those injuries, almost half (43%) were the results of sprains and strains while others included overexerting (26.5% for physical and 14.5% for overexerting from lifting), as revealed in a 2004 workplace study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on 

So, as KB Staffing continues with our Ergonomics series, our focus is now on preventing injuries in the food distribution centers, part of the private industry. With food distribution centers, there are four specific systems used to move materials around in the warehouse: Traditional (products placed in slots), Belt-Pick (products are taken off of conveyor belts), Cross-Docking (products are broken down on dock and transferred to outbound trucks) and Flow-Through (products move from inbound trucks to conveyors to outbound trucks).

Beginning with the Traditional food system, injuries are most common to the body while lifting heavy products and if boxes don’t have proper ways to be held. The use of forklifts and additional co-workers can prevent unnecessary injury from heavy products, as well as using the cut-outs in boxes to get a firm grip on the box while moving.

The Belt-Pick system uses more pallets, which can cause overexertion in employees, so a request can be made for plastic pallets as opposed to wooden ones that are heavier. Manual wrapping of products can also cause injury, so the provision of automatic wrappers and/or handles for employees to hold while wrapping could be of assistance.

One issues that arises for Cross-Docking is the lack of maintenance with pallet jacks, due to its frequent use in the warehouse. Setting up a routine of maintenance check-up could keep pallet jacks at top speed and lessen employees’ chance of hurting themselves.

For Flow-Through systems, proper breaks and shift changes need to be in order so that employees don’t overwork themselves, which can increase fatigue and the lack of coordination with handling materials and boxes.

With these ergonomic tips in place, you are ready to hire some qualified workers or be employed by several companies in the Central Florida workforce. Please contact us KB Staffing’s website to see our employment opportunities page and apply online for those interested in our temp positions.

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