From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Manufacturing Steel Furniture


CTD News, January 1996, vol. 5, No. 2, Charleston Forge Welds Homemade Approach, CTD News.

Task Prior to Abatement (Description)

Workers had to carry, shape, and cut 20-foot lengths of steel in different shape and sizes, weld the pieces into products, and pull or carry the finished products, which weigh up to 150 pounds, to the finishing, painting, and shipping area.

Task Prior to Abatement (Method Which Identified Hazard)

There were a number of medical cases of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, tendinitis, and back strain.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Force)

Workers had to pull and carry the finished products which weighed up to 150 pounds.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Posture)

Awkward posture required to inspect and brush the products.

Ergonomic Risk Factor (Repetition)

The tasks involved fine and repetitive hand work.

Ergonomic Solution (Administrative Controls)

Buddy system has been implemented.

Limited job rotation was used.

Back belts were provided for interested employees, conditional upon attending a seminar on proper body mechanics and lifting techniques.

Training was provided regularly.

Ergonomic Solution (Engineering Controls)

An enclosed shotblaster machine has been used to automate polishing of the steel.

An automatic washing system has been provided.

Lighting placement and brightness have been improved to reduce the awkward posture required to inspect and brush the products.

Many of the jigs were improved to be adjustable.

Ergonomic Solution (Benefits)

Workers’ productivity and efficiency has been increased.

All workers that perform the tasks now have reduced exposure to various forms of work-related injuries.

Ergonomic Solution (Cost)

Ergonomic changes have cost about $3,500 aside from the shotblaster and washing systems.

Ergonomic Solution (Method Which Verified Effectiveness)

The company’s lost days from carpal tunnel syndrome, back strain and other CTDs has been cut to zero in 1996, down from 176 lost workdays in 1991.


Some areas of the workplace such as packaging and moving the products out the door still need modification which is prohibitive for the company because of the cost and large area involved.

Developing working relationships with local health professionals is recommended to encourage a healthier and more productive workforce.