From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics- Feeding Wide Layers of Material to Large Bandage-Making Machine

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Ergonomic case study for workers feeding wide layers of material to large bandage-making machine. The worker had to feed wide layers of material into the machine from separate raw material feed rolls; each must be replenished approximately six times per day. The worker lifts in the most stressful manner with the axis of the roll parallel to the front of the body, and positions the roll with increased horizontal distance because of foot interference.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Verified Hazard)

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Work Practices Guide for Manual Lifting verified that the problem exists.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Worker had experienced several close calls where he felt that he was placing too much strain on his back (no medical incidents had been reported on this job).

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

The worker lifts the rolls using a mandrel inserted through the core, requiring the most stressful manner of lifting with the axis of the roll parallel to the front of the body. Because of foot interference with the unwind stand base, the task required increased horizontal distance to feed the machine.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Repetition)

Although this task is a repetitive motion, the frequency and duration of the activity do not occur at a magnitude for repetition to be a risk factor.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

The unwind stand and mandrel were redesigned such that the roll could be positioned into the unwind stand from the side rather than the end. This eliminated the need to lift the mandrel along with the roll which reduced the amount of weight lifted and reduced the required horizontal distance.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

All workers that perform this task now have reduced exposure to low back injury risk factors.

The modification was favorably received by the operators who are now able to rotate into this job without apparent difficulty.

Elimination of two severe finger pinch points where the mandrel slid into slots in the original unwind stand.

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

The amount of weight lifted was reduced by 19 pounds (approximately 35 percent of the original lifting requirements).

The redesign of the unwind stand allowed the operator to lift the roll positioned with the flat side of the roll against the body, which reduced the required horizontal distance to 10 inches.

The allowable weight limit was increased from 25 to 51 pounds.

The workers could perform the job without apparent difficulty.

NIOSH Work Practice Guide for Manual Lifting demonstrated the reduction in physical stress.


Longmate, Arthur R., and Hayes, Timothy J., March/April 1990, Making a Difference at Johnson & Johnson: Some Ergonomic Intervention Case Studies, Industrial Management, 32(2).