How to Give Your Dealership’s Shop an Ergo-Boost
When you think of ergonomics, do you picture office furniture? A sleek (and expensive!) chair, or a stand-up desk alternative, or a highly-contoured mousepad? You might actually have all those things in your dealership’s offices, but the science of ergonomics applies to every aspect of your operation. Or it should. So, how ergonomic is your shop?
Ergonomics are good for you
As an employer, your job is to provide a workplace that promotes worker health and safety as well as efficiency. Making ergonomic improvements to your environment and the ways in which people perform their job tasks benefits your employees and your business. You can boost productivity and morale, and you can reduce the risk of on-the-job injuries that drive up workers’ comp claims and premiums.
Repair and body shops are inherently dangerous. From an ergonomics standpoint, the greatest dangers are reaching, bending, and lifting – especially if they are done repeatedly or for prolonged periods. Awkward moves that involve over-extension and over-exertion cause musculoskeletal injuries – the leading culprit when it comes to workers’ comp claims.
Techs can injure their knees, wrists, and shoulders, but back injuries are the worst, in every way. Treatment can be elusive, resulting in lingering pain and incapacitation for your injured tech and particularly high costs for your dealership.
It makes a lot more sense to do everything you can to make your shop as ergonomically friendly as possible.
What can you do to make your dealership’s shop areas more ergonomic? Lots of things, and they don’t have to cost you the proverbial arm and leg.
- Look around at how your shop is laid out. Think about the physical movements your techs make as they go about their business. What are the ergonomic risks here? How can you fix that?
- Go straight to the source. You can theorize all you want about ergonomics, and research many great improvement ideas other businesses have instituted. However, your own shop crew knows first-hand about how thing work at your Get them together – or form a special team – to consider how you can work more ergonomically. An added benefit here is that they are more likely to follow new policies or protocols if they have had a hand in creating them.
- Find ways to keep heavy objects off the floor. The ergonomically safest lifting zone is between the knees and shoulders. Storing heavy items within that range makes them easier to lift and move. Better yet, roll-around carts or conveyor systems enable techs to easily transport everything room tools to parts without having to lift or carry them at all.
Along that same line, waist-high benches enable techs to work on items in the least-stressful position. And raised platforms enable them to work on big machines without awkward, tiring reaching. Insist that techs use jacks or similar lifting aids to lift and hold heavy machine parts.
- Real men (and smart women) ask for help. Employees who pretend they don’t need assistance, or worry that they will be interrupting a co-worker intent on their own work, are the same people who get injured and cause accidents to others.
- Safety training is a regular occurrence at your dealership, so be sure to include ergonomics education as part of that program.
- And, yes, maybe you’ll even want to give them a better-designed chair or a stool that includes a backrest.
The more you and your shop crews know about ergonomics, the easier it will be to make continuous improvements to your shop areas. You don’t have to do everything at once (and that may not fit your budget anyway). Focus on top priorities first, and tackle the other issues as you can. As you do, your dealership’s service and body shops will become increasingly productive and more profitable as well as safer.