You are considering upgrading from fixed height to adjustable height workstations because you heard that they are ergonomic, and you care about the health and productivity of your employees. But you are still wondering if they are really going to improve your efficiency and solve your ergonomic challenges. And if they do, what type of height-adjustable workbenches are the best fit for you? Here are three questions to ask to help you make an informed decision.
Why Height Adjustable?
Look around at your workplace. People are of different height, size, body mass, and physical dexterity. Fitting them all into a fixed height workstation would be like forcing a square peg into a round hole in most cases. If they perform repetitive tasks at that workstation, they will experience a significant amount of bending, stretching, and/or reaching due to the suboptimal setup, which could lead to repetitive stress injuries. Over time your employees’ productivity, physical health, and morale will suffer, directly and indirectly impacting your business’s bottom line. In fact, OSHA developed a calculator to help companies evaluate the impact of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD’s).
A height-adjustable workstation allows the workers to adjust to an optimized, neutral position and reduce or eliminate the ergonomically risky and non-value adding body movements while working. The result is more boxes or sub-assemblies out of the door and happier and healthier employees for you.
How Many People and Shifts Utilize a Workstation?
Whether a workstation needs to be height-adjustable or not depends on its use. If only one person works at the station and it can be set to their optimum position, then it is okay to choose a fixed height design. A fixed height workbench can also be the right choice for equipment that operators only need to access occasionally, and the height doesn’t make any difference to its usage.
Height adjustable work benches are necessary when multiple people and shifts utilize the same workstation. Depending on how often you need to raise or lower the top, you can decide what type of height-adjustable workstation is a better fit for you.
Electric height-adjustable workstations are best for multi-operator, multi-shift applications. The height is controlled with a programmable switch, and multiple presets can be saved for different operators and activated with just the touch of a button. It is designed to support 5th to 95th percentile operators in a sitting or standing posture. A rear fixing frame provides stable support for uprights to hold a wide variety of accessories. The operator can stay in a neutral position as items are well organized and within easy reach.
Manual height-adjustable workstations, when set optimally, have the same benefits as the electric height-adjustable workstations. The height is adjusted by removing the locking hand screws, repositioning the telescoping legs to the desired height, and replacing the locking hand screws. Since more steps are involved in adjusting the height, manual height adjustable workstations are therefore best for single-shift, single-operator applications where frequent height changes are not required.
How Often Does an Operator Switch Positions during a Shift?
How an operator uses the workstation during a single shift can also influence the choice of electric or manual height-adjustable workstations.
Some companies promote movement of employees by encouraging them to switch between sitting or standing positions. Or employees might have a personal preference for that. Additionally, in some manufacturing and assembly settings, a specific task might warrant the change of work bench height for the same user. For instance, an operator would lower the height of the work bench to work on the top of a motor and raise it to access the bottom of it. Due to the frequency of adjustments needed in these circumstances, an electric height-adjustable work bench would work much better.
To sum up, the decision of height adjustability or not and what type of height-adjustable bench needs to consider how a workstation is used. A thorough review of your employees’ motions and tasks will give you a good indication what type of station fits your application.