From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Box Building and Closing

Box Building and Closing


Wick, John, L. , and Johnson, D., 1994, Implementing Ergonomic Changes With Limited Resources, Advances in Industrial Ergonomics and Safety VII.

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Workers had to build specific boxes for each product and staple the covers after the product was packed. They cut a large sheet of corrugated cardboard to size using a cutter to cut the length and a slitter to cut the width. Then they had to crimp the cardboard with a crimper where it would then be folded. Workers had to use a corner cutter to cut the cardboard out of the corners for the folds. These tasks were done in five different locations. The assembly was done on the assembly table using two types of pneumatic staple guns, a gun with an anvil for the accessible edges of the cardboard, and a blind stapler to staple through the cardboard face. Workers in the box closing procedures had to staple the covers of the boxes after packing the products, inserting the necessary paperwork, and putting the cover in place. .

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Two medical cases of upper extremities Cumulative Trauma Disorders in the Shipping Department.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Force)

High force pinch grips and power grips were required to carry cardboard vertically and horizontally.

High left hand pinch grip force was required to stabilize the box against the impact of the blind stapler during vertical stapling.

High pulling force was required in using slitter guard.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Workers used awkward postures including extreme arm pronation/supination and wrist extention in order to perform vertical stapling and while stabilizing the box against the impact of the blind stapler.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

  1. Generic box types were developed in order to minimize the stresses associated with complex designs.
  2. Tape was used instead of staple guns whenever possible.
  3. An adjustable scissors lift table was provided instead of the box building/closing table in order to require the best possible posture to perform the tasks.
  4. Additional air hoses were installed to facilitate use of the staple guns.
  5. Cutter/crimper had been modified in order to provide semi-automatic activation and easier material handling.
  6. A new saw is planned for installation on the assembly table to improve the work flow.
  7. Counter-balancing the slitter guard will be implemented as fabrication time becomes available.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

  • All workers that perform the tasks now have reduced exposure to upper extremities Cumulative Trauma Disorders.
  • Reduction in workers’ compensation costs.

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

  • Decreasing stresses in the original workplace.
  • No new injuries have been reported after workplace modifications.


Although all of the problems have not been completely solved and all of the causes are not entirely addressed, the stresses in the original workplace are reduced and improvements have been made to the maximum extent that available resources would allow.