From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Manual Delivery


Fehrenbacher, D., and Wick, John, L., 1995, A Successful Back Injury Reduction Program, Advances in Industrial Ergonomics and Safety VII.

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Manual Material Handling tasks are one of the major sources of back injuries among workers. Delivery of heavy or bulky products, especially with high frequency of lifts, is contributing to the back injuries of many workers. Workers at Pepsico, including Delivery Drivers, had to manually handle heavy bottled liquid packed in case lots which were in awkward locations. The task required high frequency and short period of rests. Workers had to deliver soft drinks to the next delivery point or small retail stores.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Verified Hazard)

Citation of the company by Hawaii Devision of Occupational Safety and Health (HOSHA) for not providing a safe workplace with regard to back injuries, specifically naming the Route Driver job in March 1991.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

Increasing numbers of back injury cases during 1988 and 1989 (15 injury reports).

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Force)

Lifting and pulling of heavy products was required to perform the task.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Bending and extended reaching was required to grasp heavy objects.

Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)

  1. Training with greater emphasis on awareness of the risks in Manual Material Handling tasks.
  2. “Safe Work Procedures” training for drivers.
  3. An exercise program was introduced.
  4. Back belts were provided on a voluntary basis.
  5. An Ergonomics Consultant was contracted to deal with OSHA citation and developing workplace design solutions.
  6. In order to identify hazards associated with individual jobs, worker questionnaires were developed, distributed, and collected.
  7. Job Safety Analyses were conducted.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

  1. Pullout shelves were provided for Delivery Trucks in order to reduce the height of the grasp for heavy objects.
  2. An improved truck loading pattern was developed in order to locate heavier products at the best location for a safe lift.
  3. Portable ramps were developed to assist in pulling loaded hand-trucks over curbs.
  4. In order to choose the best hand-truck, Action Force necessary to move five different hand-trucks under six different load conditions was evaluated.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

All workers that perform the tasks now have reduced exposure to back injury risk factors.

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

  • Dramatic decrease in back injury reports from 15 cases in 1991 to 4 in 1992.
  • Continuous effect in reduction of back injury through 1993 (seven cases) and 1994 (five cases).


Engineering Controls and appropriate design changes, along with effective training, make up the best approach to injury reduction in workplaces.