Research center helps reduce risk of injury and increase productivity of distribution center employees

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 - The Material Handling Industry of America's (MHIA) first-ever direct funding of material handling and logistics research has resulted in the development of a Distribution Ergonomics Research Center (DERC) at Ohio State University (OSU). The research grant is provided by MHIA through its College Industry Council on Material Handling Education (CICMHE).

Dr. Carolyn Sommerich and Dr. Stephen Lavender of OSU established the DERC using the $50,000 grant to develop and evaluate ergonomic interventions (methods, tools, equipment, processes, etc.) that will allow distribution center workers to work more efficiently and safely. The long term objective is to address common ergonomic issues that exist across Distribution Center (DC) operations within three commodity sectors: Grocery, Apparel, and General Merchandise.

As part of this project, OSU conducted focus groups with managers and safety personnel from distribution organizations in the Midwest and Eastern portions of the country. Organizations indicated which ergonomic issues were most important to them such as reaching, lifting, and repetitive motions. Possible interventions (process changes and equipment) were then identified by the study organizations as well as industry organizations providing ergonomic solutions.

Results of the research shows that there are a number of intervention opportunities available to distribution centers that can be used to address existing ergonomic issues that are common within and across distribution commodity sectors. The intervention concepts developed by the study organizations can help reduce the biomechanical loads experienced by DC employees, thereby reducing their risk of injury and potentially allowing DC employees to be more productive.

"MHIA is proud to support this important research which will contribute significantly to the body of knowledge on ways to improve the safety and productivity of warehouses and distribution centers," says Daniel Quinn, Material Handling Industry Vice Chairman - Education Planning & Professional Development.

For questions regarding this and future research funding, contact the MHIA Vice President of Educational & Technical Services, and CICMHE Managing Director, Mike Ogle at 800-345-1815/704-676-1190.

MHIA is an international trade association that has represented the material handling & logistics industry since 1945. MHIA members include material handling and logistics equipment and systems manufacturers, integrators, consultants, publishers, and third party logistics providers. Member companies come from all areas of material handling and various parts of the world, making MHIA a strong national and international representative for the material handling industry. Much of the work of the industry is done within its product-specific sections, councils and affiliates. The association also sponsors trade events, such as ProMat and MODEX 2012 to showcase the products and services of its member companies and to educate industry professionals on the productivity solutions provided through material handling and logistics.

CICMHE is an independent organization that prepares and provides information, teaching materials and various events in support of material handling education and research. Founded in 1952, the main body of CICMHE is composed of thirteen college and university educators. Additional members are drawn from material handling equipment manufacturers, distributors, users and consultants, representatives of the business press, and professional staff members of organizations concerned with material handling education. CICMHE encourages research and sponsors educational seminars and training courses. Through its various programs and diverse representation of membership, CICMHE facilitates the interchange of information among concerned individuals in industry, academia and in the user community to aid in improving and implementing material handling education.

From: mhia.org


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