From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

The maintenance shop

Dan MacLeod, CPE, MA, MPH


Workbench height



Tilters and trunnions

Adjustable height


Normally, the workbenches and machines in maintenance shops are not used with the same repetitiveness as in production areas. However, for some jobs, the ideas and best practices from production workstations and machine operations can be helpful.

The following are several issues and equipment that are common in maintenance shops, with links to more information.

Ideas and Options

Workbench height

Height1 Height2 Height3
Extended legs Benchtop base and transmission fixture Rotate to drain oil

Equalizing heights between workbenches and various equipment can reduce the amount of lifting. The example above shows how a workbench was raised to put it at exactly the right height for placing a transmission fixture, thus eliminating a heavy lift. (The transmission fixture itself is a good idea, making it easy to tip the transmission to drain oil.)

See Workstations: Height adjustmentFree-standing fixturesBenchtop fixtures.


Storage1 Storage2
Good organization Portable tool rack

Good organization of tools and equipment can go a long way in reducing congestion and making tasks more user-friendly. Portable tool racks can be configured in varieties of ways to keep items close at hand.

CarouselFloor CarouselBenchtop
Heavy floor carousel Inexpensive benchtop carousel

Carousels provide an especially good way to keep small items handy, visible, and in a small footprint. Different styles are available, ranging from heavy-duty floor carousels to small plastic benchtop units (especially good for odds and ends).

For more ideas, see Workstations: Storage

Chairs and creepers

Chair1 Chair2
Stool with tray Mechanics seat

A multitude of stools and chairs are available for maintenance work. Many include surfaces to keep tools and materials in easy reach. So-called “mechanics seats” are low to the ground, have wheels, and often can be tilted far back for overhead work.

Creeper1 Creeper2
Custom creeper – in use Clear view

Creepers provide a common way to access undersides of equipment. More styles with unique features are now commercially available. The example above shows a homemade creeper designed to provide access to an especially difficult position.

Topside creeper

“Topside” creepers provide padding and support for hanging over some types of equipment. These types of units are not perfect solutions, but they can be better than nothing at all.

Tilters and trunnions

Powered tilters Trunnions (“car rotisserie”)

Rather than crawling under or reaching over equipment, it may be possible to tip the equipment into a better position. Lifts and tilters can be used, as can free-standing fixtures like engine stands or the “car rotisserie” shown above.