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Power Equipment

Ergonomics 101: Protecting your most valuable resource

Plant floors and assembly lines can be dangerous. There’s no denying that. Working with tools big and small has its risks. At Atlas Copco, safety is not something we take lightly.

Since we started our ergonomics program for industrial power tools in 1958, we’ve considered ergonomics to be of the utmost importance when working with and using machinery in a production environment. To us, ergonomics is the commitment we make to keeping tool operators safe and comfortable by way of avoiding dangerous exposure to unnecessary physical strain and vibrations as they use our tools and solutions. This means that with every piece of machinery or tool that we develop, the comfort and safety of operators will always be the top priority.

Why you should care about ergonomics in the workplace

It’s important to understand why ergonomics is the most valuable resource your plant has. It isn’t productivity or quality, and that’s because those resources go hand in hand with strong ergonomics in the workplace. When safety is compromised and accidents or injuries become inevitable, productivity and quality on your assembly line suffers. Issues arising from poor ergonomics are costly, and not only because of the rehabilitation process of affected operators; studies indicate that the cost of lost productivity and quality after an accident can be much greater than the cost of rehabilitation. At Atlas Copco, every single product of ours must pass an extensive ergonomic test before its launch.

How tool design improves ergonomics

Atlas Copco produces thousands of different tools to support many different industries. For us, strong ergonomics means that no matter which tool is being used, its design will ensure operator safety. Of all the tools in our catalog, every single one was developed with strong ergonomics as a top priority. Atlas Copco’s fixtured workstation solutions, for instance, encompasses a broad range of products that were developed specifically for operator ease and comfort.

The HTS Reaction Suspension System is a suspended torque reaction. Reducing fatigue while increasing productivity on the line, its low handling forces, and lightweight, smooth movement improves workplace ergonomics. Our AXR Articulated Arm is just another example of a solution built with exceptionally strong ergonomics. Atlas Copco’s AXR Articulated Arm is an inverted configuration made for overhead rail mounting. The AXR Articulated Arm reacts the torque generated by a tool, eliminating impact to the operator. Like the HTS, AXR reduces operator fatigue with low handling forces and handle mounting, which provides an ergonomic operator handling point for moving the arm up and down the line of travel.

Vibration in the workplace

Risks associated with long-term exposure to vibrating tools on the plant floor can be avoided by strong workplace ergonomics. In handheld tools especially, poor ergonomic design that leaves tool vibration uncontrolled can lead to damaged nerve cells, vascular injury, and a number of musculoskeletal disorders. In most cases, issues like nerve cell damage inevitably lead to sensitivity loss in the fingers, or perhaps to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which has similar symptoms. That’s why our tools are developed to reduce vibration exposure to the engineer by controlling the magnitude of the vibration forces and isolating the vibrations from the gripped surfaces.

Industrial grinders are one example of handheld tools that, without specific measures taken to eliminate vibration impact, can lead to damaged nerves and musculoskeletal disorders. That’s why our industrial grinders are typically built with autobalancers and scatterdampening features, which increase the life of burrs but reduce the risk of vibration-related injuries. Our LSF39 Die Grinder is one of our grinders developed with scatterdampening and a built-in silencer for reducing noise levels.

With all this in mind, it’s important to note that despite the measures we take to keep engineers safe from vibration damage, our tools are still as powerful as they can be because we know that safety and power in the workplace go hand in hand with each other.

Our commitment to ergonomics

Our expert team of tool engineers and developers here at Atlas Copco is dedicated to keeping our customers safe and happy in the long run. Every tool and solution created in our facilities is developed with ergonomics in mind because we know and understand that productivity and quality lag when engineers are at risk of injury. With tools like the HTS Reaction Suspension System, the AXR Articulated Arm and many of our industrial grinders, Atlas Copco’s commitment to ergonomics remains just as strong as the day our ergonomic program was established back in 1958.

To learn more information about our commitment to ergonomics, contact Atlas Copco and schedule a demo today.