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Adjustable Workstations: Which One Is Right For You?

Jul 14, 2021 | Ergonomics

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are one of the most common workplace injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that they account for nearly one-third of all injury and illness cases.

Providing proper ergonomic supports for your employees helps reduce these injuries. This benefits them and your company.

Ergonomic adjustable workstations are an effective tool to reduce injuries in an industrial environment. These industrial workstations are available in manual and electric models. Let’s look at how the two compare.

Why Ergonomic Workstations Are Important

Workplace injuries hurt the people involved, but they also hurt your company. You’ll face a loss of productivity and higher costs.

Providing your employees with ergonomic workstations has several benefits, including:

  • Improved productivity
  • Higher accuracy and quality
  • Healthier, safer employees
  • Higher retention of skilled workers

You can look at it from the perspective of keeping your employees safe or reducing your company’s overhead costs. Either way, providing ergonomically sound working conditions benefits everyone. This applies to every industry that uses these types of workstations, from shipping stations, assembly benches, to medical assembly workstations.  Modular workstations can be set-up for particular tasks, allowing you to optimize them for different jobs and workflows.

How Manual Adjustable Workstations Operate

Manual adjustable workstations typically use a plunger system to adjust the height. You pull the plunger and adjust the telescoping legs to the desired height, then release the plunger into place.

These industrial workbenches are more time-intensive to adjust since the worker has to raise or lower them by hand and there are often two people needed to complete the adjustment safely. The surface of the bench needs to be clear before making any adjustments. The weight of any equipment on top will have to be lifted along with the workbench itself.

Manual workstations are best-suited to single-shift; single operator applications where the same person uses the workstation and doesn’t change positions from sit to stand. Because of the work involved with adjustments, manually adjustable workstations aren’t recommended if you need to change height more than three or four times per year.

How Electric Adjustable Workstations Operate

Electric adjustable workstations use electric actuators to raise and lower the work surface. Instead of having to manually change a plunger mechanism and clear the workbench each time, the operator presses a button to adjust the height of an electric workbench.

Electric workstations are available in different load capacities. Provided you don’t overload the bench with more weight than it’s rated for, you can adjust the height without removing anything from the surface.

These workstations are ideal for environments where different workers use the same workspace or you have the option of a sit-stand operation. Because of their ease of adjustment, each user can quickly make any changes necessary for proper ergonomics.

In most cases, electric workstations offer the most benefits. The following are the biggest advantages they have over manual alternatives.

Employees Actually Use Electric Height-Adjustability

For employees to use the height-adjustability feature it needs to be effortless.  Electric adjustability is the only method that allows the operator to adjust the workstations with just a push of a button.  Experience has shown that even crank-adjustable workstations won’t get used properly and employees end up working in poor postures.

Reduce Non-Value-Added Time

Electric workstations take less time to adjust. You simply press a button to move the workbench up or down.

If you’re following Lean principles you want to reduce any motions that don’t add value and are considered waste.  Adjustments that are needed to make the workstations work for your employees don’t add value and are wasting time and energy.

Virtually Maintenance-Free

Electric height adjustable workstations have sealed actuators that require no maintenance. When you are considering adding the best option of height adjustable workstations, you can be confident that they will work and support your business processes.

When to Consider a Manual Workstation

Electric workstations have quite a few advantages over manual options. There are a couple of cases where manual workstations may make sense, though.

First, a manual workstation costs less than an equivalent electric workbench. If you don’t need to adjust the workstation very often, you can reduce your capital costs by choosing a manual version.

Second, if your workstations are always used by the same workers in the same working position, a manual workstation will be fine. Once the height is set for a particular employee, it won’t need to get adjusted again for quite some time. Typical examples where manually adjustable workstations are used are alongside or over conveyors.

Where to Find the Best Adjustable Workbenches for Your Employees

If you’re sold on the benefits of ergonomic workstations but aren’t sure what models are best for your operation, BOSTONtec can help. We carry a range of manual workstations and electric workstations to improve your employees’ ergonomics.

Get in touch with us today to discuss your needs and we’ll help you find the right models for your staff.

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