From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics- Loading Aircraft Stow Bins

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Ergonomic case study for workers who load aircraft stow bins.  Stow bins installed in passenger compartments of large commercial aircrafts are heavy and bulky. Workers had to physically carry and position the stow bins on the aircraft. The only access into the aircraft for carrying the stow bins was the passenger doors. Stow bins were loaded and positioned into place by workers. They could be up to 78 inches in length with the center stow bins about 60 inches wide. Two workers lift the stow bins of the transportation device, one at either end, and place them on a cart. After the cart is rolled to a passenger door, the bins are lifted off the cart and they are carried through the door to a lifting device which would position them into their place. Since partitions and galleys are installed in this position, the stow bins must be turned on their sides to fit. The cart was not maneuverable enough to fit between the partition and the galley. There were complaints of sore muscles after performing the tasks by workers.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Verified Hazard)

Examination of the OSHA injury data, discussions with supervisors, mechanics, and observation of the tasks by a safety team verified the existance of ergonomics risk factors in performing the task.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Increasing complaint of sore muscles by workersafter performing the task.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Force)

Stow bins weighed up to 100 lbs.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Workers had awkward postures while performing the task.

Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)

  1. Participation of mechanics in the analysis, prioritization, and process examination. They were involved in the use and critique of a prototype aid before final production release of the design.
  2. Organizing a cross-functional team consisting of three ergonomists, a supervisor, two mechanics from the shop, an
  3. Industrial Engineer responsible for the interiors installation shop, a representative from the Tooling organization assigned to the shop, and a return – to – work representative.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

  1. Use of scissor-lift truck for loading stow bins in order to reduce the carrying distance and to avoid the tight fit required in loading.
  2. Designing a new tool in order to carry the stow bins into the aircraft and lift them into their place (in consideration).

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

  • Increased Productivity
  • Increased work quality
  • Decrease of work-related injury and discomfort among workers.


It is essential that a prototype be developed. There should be open communication between workers and the designer for developing a successful tool.