Ergonomics in Welding An overview of WMSDs* hazardous exposures and solutions *Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
What will You learn
Identify WMSDs hazardous exposures in welding jobs
Propose solutions for hazardous exposures
Find further information about ergonomics in welding operations
Welding operations are necessary in many industries such as construction, manufacturing, maintenance, etc.
Welding has several hazardous conditions for women and men in these jobs.
Common hazards found in welding are:
inhaling metals fumes,
eye exposure to welding arc light (UV, visible),
foreign objects in eyes,
cuts, bruises, etc.
Welding also includes musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) hazards such as:
awkward body postures,
lifting heavy equipment or materials,
static postures for prolonged periods,
awkward postures of the wrist, etc.
WA State-funded compensable claims 1994-2004 Welders, Cutters, Solderers By Nature of Injury Sprains account for more than 1/3 of the compensable claims among welders in the State of Washington. Some of those could be caused by hazardous WMSD exposures.
WA State-funded compensable claims 1994-2004 Welders, Cutters, Solderers By Body Part The back, neck and shoulder together with the arm and hand regions make up more than one half of the injuries among welders in Washington State. Preventive efforts should therefore focus on those body parts among welders at your workplace. Welding is a strenuous occupation involving work in awkward postures and handling heavy equipment, usually with a high degree of sustained stress to arm and shoulders.
Absences due to injury or illness and the transfer of welders to other tasks
Overtime for replacement workers. Welders are skilled employees
High employee turnover
Increased training and supervisory time
Reduced productivity and quality
Consequences of a poor working environment
Rigorous manual precision requirements
High degree of uniformity
Awkward and static postures
Difficult work position
Heavy lifting, difficult material handling
Heavy objects, heavy welding equipment
High work intensity
WMDS hazards most common in welding OFTEN, MORE THAN 1 RISK FACTOR IS PRESENT
Duration (how long?)
Hazard Elements Frequency (how often?) Intensity (how hard?)
Common postures adopted in welding Working in front Working at ground level Working above the shoulders Working at ground level, precision work Working at ground level, confined space Working above shoulders, confined space ‡ From: Torner et al, 1991
Awkward postures in welding Torso twisting Severe torso flexion Kneeling, squatting Bent wrists Neck flexion/extension Shoulder flexion/abduction (separation)
To simplify the welding performance for the welder and reduce the physical load during the work
Automate physically demanding or repetitive jobs
Expand the work content of welders (provide flexibility between jobs)
Multi-skilled workers who are able to perform different tasks within a group)
The goal of a healthy work environment
Often cost, ease of maintenance, space considerations drive the design process
When hazards can’t be engineered out, using best practices is the alternative
Examples of good design: providing opportunities for adjustments, providing different sizes, using good planning to eliminate unnecessary work
The Real World
Possible Ergonomic Improvements
Lighter welding equipment, easier to handle
Using lighter cables with low stiffness
Use cable supporting devices
Utilize overhead hoists
Utilize lifting and turning tables
Position work between waist and shoulder, when possible
Motorized positioning devices
Use welding guns with swivels and designed for use in both hands
Ergonomic improvements Team lifting helps reduce heavy, awkward lifting of equipment and materials. AFTER From: SIMA San Diego Ergonomics Program BEFORE
Ergonomic improvements To reduce working with the back bent at ground level, any work table will help to adopt a safer posture AFTER From: Shipyard Ergonomics, 2003 BEFORE
Ergonomic improvements Pre-assembly and material handling equipment helps reduce unnecessary lifting or any other kind of manual material handling
Ergonomic improvements This rotational clamp for pipe helps reduce awkward postures for the neck, shoulders and arms.
Ergonomic improvements Tables for welding and transport reduce manual lifting, carrying of heavy materials. The tables also have wheels.
Ergonomic improvements Welding leads on pulleys help reduce heavy and awkward lifting, static postures for long periods.
Ergonomic improvements Robotic automation, are also feasible solutions to highly repetitive motions with the arms and hands. May also reduce the exposure to fumes.
Not implementing some or all these ergonomics guidelines may result in the following…
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
Often occur when the physical demands of work cause wear and tear
Involve soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels
They are cumulative (occur over time and not a result of a single incident):
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders
Motor vehicle accidents
Being struck by or caught with objects
They are not acute injuries such as:
Shoulder pain/loss of range of motion
Reduced muscle strength
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Knee joint diseases
Common disorders among welders
The Ergonomics Cycle
The ergonomics cycle provides with an organized way to start your ergonomics effort.
Employee Involvement Evaluate progress Management Support Problem Identification Solution Implementation Address Injuries Training
The technical contents of this slideshow are based upon the presentation developed by Ninica Howard, MS, CPE, research ergonomist with the SHARP program at the Washington state Dept. of Labor and Industries.
Shipyard Ergonomics for purchase at Shipbuilders Council of America at www.Shipbuilders.org
NIOSH’s Ergonomic Interventions in the Building, Repair, and Dismantling of Ships
Easy Ergonomics . A practical approach for improving the workplace OR OSHA & CAL OSHA Services. www.cbs.state.or.us/osha/pdf/pubs/3347.pdf
On WMSD hazardous exposures visit the WISHA webpage at: www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Topics/Ergonomics
Example Template of an accident prevention program :
Ideas to reduce hazardous exposures can be found at the Ergonomics Ideas Bank