From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics- Feeding Sutures to Semi-Automatic Winding Machine (SAW)

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

The SAW operator sits at the machine and feeds sutures into the loading area. If there are machine or product problems, the operator may hit the foot pedal up to 400 times a shift.

There was limited leg room for large operators, trouble reaching the foot pedal for small operators, and the work table had sharp edges.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

There are a number of medical cases in the SAW Department, some of which were OSHA recordable.

There were numerous complaints from employees about the machine.

The Hand-winding Department had a high incidence of cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs).

One case of sciatic nerve entrapment led to a large worker’s compensation claim.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Mechanical)

The working height of the machine and foot pedal was not adjustable, and did not fit most of the workers.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

The saw operator sits at the machine and feeds sutures (approximately 10,000 during a shift) into the loading area.

The work table had sharp edges.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Repetition)

The operator may hit the foot pedal up to 400 times a shift which, in case of awkward posture, is a risk factor.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

The cutout in the front plate was enlarged to provide more foot room and to accommodate an adjustable foot pedal.

The pedal was modified to adjust between 7 and 15 inches.

Padding was installed on the edge of the work table to keep the sharp edges from cutting into the operator’s forearms.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

All workers that perform this task have a reduced exposure to cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs).

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

With the adjustable pedal, 95 percent of the workforce can reach the pedal.

Smaller operators can sit in their chairs and reach the pedal. They no longer have to sit at the edge of their chairs.

By padding the edges of the table, complaints about the work table digging into workers’ forearms have stopped.


To date, the changes have been made in only one plant, but are scheduled to be implemented at all locations due to employee acceptance of the changes.