The indirect costs associated with lower back pain has been reported to be costing the Australian Economy $60.15 billion each year (4.8 per cent of GDP) due to loss of earnings and productivity, with small and medium employers said to be paying the highest in rehabilitation costs.
The need to improve this statistic should be obvious at all scales of business and manufacturing. Not only will it help prevent management from being on the receiving end of any legal personal injury prosecutions, but being OHS compliant reduces the accumulation of daily inefficiencies that can prevent achieving overall productivity gains.
“Regretfully one of the key reasons for the slow uptake of some of these OHS friendly equipment solutions is that Management overlooks the cost of OHS compliance. Instead they can be too driven by daily production targets at the expense of injuries to their human resources.
“What isn’t being considered is that short-term back pain can lead to more enduring and serious physically debilitating conditions. The situation then needs further financial investment to cover the salary costs of replacement contract workers” Neil Kinder, of Kinder & Co, comments.
Kinder & Co offers a range of lightweight bulk materials handling componentry - engineered utilising composite polymer technology as a modern substitute to the much heavier steel or rubber constructed equivalents. They are ideally situated to observe the results of weight improvements in manufacturing equipment.
A recent customer case study from a Pilbara-based crushing plant demonstrates how OHS hazards are reduced by switching to using polymer-based composites such as the wear liner system - K-Superline®. The plant has benefitted in the following 2 simple but very effective ways:
1. Reduced the material build up occurring: the B93 durometer type specified for the 1″ thick K-Superline® Polyurethane Lining has a low-friction surface so it immediately eliminated the problem of build up and congestion through to the screen.
2. Reduced OHS hazards (noise and physical injury): unlike any metal lining, polyurethane absorbs all of the impact so it immediately reduced the noise levels of the material being handled. As the polyurethane is much lighter than steel, it was less much less awkward to carry and manoeuvre when installing. This is especially helpful in confined spaces such as chutes.
Avoid small temporary injuries and reduce the risk of your workers developing more serious incapacitating skeletal conditions by paying close attention to the multitude of micro-stresses they encounter at work. Even small improvements can reap dividends in costs and quality of life improvements.