How an Ergonomic Assessment Can Improve Your Auto Repair Business

Your team is bending, twisting, lifting, squatting, reaching and holding objects in position all day, every day. But if they are not following the best techniques and practices, they’re at a higher risk for injury. That means your shop is at a higher risk of lost productivity, days off work, and unnecessary costs.

The problem, and the opportunity, are both tremendous. In fact, GMG EnviroSafe collected comprehensive injury data over a period of eight years for hundreds of automotive repair facilities. We found that across 40 different injury types as reported on OSHA 300A logs, sprains and strains alone—just those two injuries—accounted for nearly a third of all reported injuries and more than half of the estimated total cost of injuries.

As is clear from the data, strains and sprains are major issues for automotive repair shops. It’s these injuries that an ergonomic assessment aims to reduce. Whether it’s an immediate injury, or cumulative trauma, paying attention to ergonomics can make a huge difference in your team’s productivity and your bottom line.

What is an Ergonomic Assessment?

An ergonomic assessment ensures that team members are using optimal working postures while performing work-related activities at your facility and that their workstations and equipment are set up to encourage safe body mechanics. An ergonomic assessment looks at variables such as the force/heaviness of objects being used, repetition (how fast and how often), longevity of exposure, contact forces (such as pressure on knees), and more.

These assessments are always done on-site, where ergonomists can see equipment and watch workers in action. They need to be able to see how long employees are engaged in auto-repair work, and also more mundane activities like computer entry, telephone calls and filing paperwork. Why so many things? While you may think ergonomic assessments are only relevant to physical repair work, an assessor needs to take into account the culmination of all activities performed during a typical workday. Even simple activities can add up to problems.

But, in the end, after all of this assessment, a worker’s risk of injury can be greatly reduced.

How is an Ergonomic Assessment Performed?

During an ergonomic assessment, careful examination is given to how employees move and position themselves and how those actions impact the following body regions:

  • Neck/Shoulder
    Including work that forces a neck to be bent at more than 45 degrees, such as checking a monitor that is located too high.
  • Hand/Wrist/Arm
    Including heavy or repetitive lifting, pinching or gripping of objects, or holding the wrist at an awkward angle.
  • Back/Trunk/Hip
    Including activities that force the back to be bent forward without support or be involved in continued heavy lifting.
  • Leg/Knee/Ankle
    Including excessive squatting or kneeling.

During an ergonomic assessment, each of the factors above, and many more, will be examined and rated in terms of possible risk. The amount of repetition of such activities, or the prolonged exposure to any, will all play a significant role. The impact of multiple activities, when grouped together, will also be considered.

What are the Results of an Ergonomic Assessment?

Every facility is different, and the number of risks, and the ways to mitigate them, will vary. But the goal is always the same: create a safer, lower-risk environment. As a result, several recommendations will be made. Those may include things like:

  • Adjusting the height of work stands, equipment and monitors
  • Relocating the storage of heavy objects and large parts, including the height and placement of storage racks
  • Using proper devices and techniques when lifting heavy objects, including batteries and doors
  • Adding mats for kneeling or lying down, and anti-fatigue shoe inserts
  • Developing an ergonomic policy for the organization
  • Implementing an ergonomic training program

The ergonomic impact of each recommendation will be considered, as so will the difficulty of making such a change, the cost (if any) of making the change, and the anticipated timeline needed to implement it.

How can I Evaluate my Ergonomic Situation?

While many online sources provide recommendations, each relies on your interpretation of those suggestions, your implementation of them, and your team’s eagerness and ability to follow them. That’s a lot to leave to chance. A more surefire way to ensure the safety of your team is to call an organization well-practiced in examining and implementing a better ergonomic system. An organization like GMG EnviroSafe. We have worked with manufacturers and auto repair facilities just like yours, helping assure they have a safe working environment for their team—reducing injuries, enhancing productivity, minimizing days off work and eliminating unnecessary costs.

Contact GMG EnviroSafe to learn more about our ergonomics programs.

Free Download Available

Download a copy of ergonomic guidelines, which provides criteria for analyzing and reducing workplace hazards for employers. The Minnesota Department of Employee Relations created this list.

Download the Guidelines