According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Ergonomics is often used in the workplace to promote employee safety, efficiency, and health.
Whether as a business owner, manager of a private commercial vehicle fleet, or supervisor of a municipal department that uses commercial vehicles, the safety of your workers should be a top priority. With over 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2016, and $170 billion spent by businesses each year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses, taking the time to enhance the safety conditions of your employees’ work environment (i.e. commercial truck or van) can have a meaningful benefit to your business.
Here at Camco Total Vehicle Solutions, we take great pride in providing the best upfitting services in the McAllen metro area and greater Rio Grande Valley so that you and your employees can work under the best conditions. If you have been considering upfitting your commercial vehicle with ergonomic specs to not only meet OSHA regulations but to improve work productivity, then consider the following information.
Questions To Consider For An Ergonomic Upfit
When preparing the specs for an ergonomic upfit, keeping in mind your employees, the industry they work in, and the type of work they will perform will be important for proper planning. With the needs of your field workers as a guiding light consider:
- Will all inventory be needed at all times?
- How many ladders will be required for the average project? Is there a safer way to transport and access them?
- How much interior space is needed for the driver to safely drive? Will in-cab devices such as GPS or mobile computer be required?
- How much time per day will the driver use the vehicle?
- How adjustable will the interior need to be for drivers of various heights?
- Which frequently used items can be placed closer to the doors for easier access?
- How high is the first step into the cargo area and how much movement will it take workers to access?
- Are you planning on carrying a lot of heavy items? What is the best manner to reach them?
- What kind of safety features are legally required? What kind would you like to implement? (i.e. airbags)
- What kind of weather will the vehicle be used in? Does it need an adequate system heating, AC, and ventilation system to deal with the extreme weather winter and summer can bring?
- Has your fleet manager received any input from workers? What upfitting requests have they made? Are they manageable?
While this list is not comprehensive, these questions can be used as the basis for a solid grasp on what ergonomic upfitting features should be added to your commercial van or truck.
5 Ergonomic Upfitting Ideas To Improve Worker Safety
When you’re looking to promote workplace safety, reduce risk of injury to employees, improve work efficiency, and boost employee satisfaction, ergonomic upfitting is the ideal option. Our Camco Wheel & Axle resident upfitting experts will help to guide you through the process so that you can make the best choices for your team.
Consider the following commercial vehicle upfitting options that utilize ergonomics to provide an improved working environment for your employees:
- Create guidelines and protocols for equipment usage.
The first step a fleet manager should take (before even upfitting a vehicle) is to develop written guidelines and protocols that detail how vehicles and equipment should be used. This should include notes on following manufacturer guidelines for commercial vehicle equipment. This initial phase will go a long way in setting workplace standards.
- Make it easier to step in and out of the cabin space.
Step bars and grab handles are highly recommended to make it safer for field workers to get in and out of the cargo area.
Another industry best practice associated with minimal movement for vehicle entry and exit is for drivers to place the tools and equipment they will be using most frequently near the doors for easy access. This is typically accomplished by upfit spec’ing that include shelves, bins, drawers on the cargo doors, hooks, slide-out cargo trays, and exterior side-access panels.
- For heavy-duty jobs consider a small liftgate or ramp.
Having your field workers haul heavy equipment every day, in and out of a commercial vehicle, is bound to cause an injury. Whether it’s a bad step that injures their back or repetitive motion that leads to some long-term injury, you’ll want to ensure your field team has the proper tools to help them safely handle loads and avoid injury.
- Spec your vehicle for driver posture and comfort.
Consider that your field team members are likely to be sitting for extended periods of time, are constantly bending their necks and backs while working in the cargo area, and will likely use the cab as a mobile office of sorts. Because of this reason, you will want to spec your vehicle’s interior and cargo area to include sufficient space to accommodate workers of various body types.
If you can provide your drivers a more comfortable seating position, they will have fewer issues with back pain and tension, which should help with productivity and customer satisfaction.
- Driver education after the upfit is essential.
In order for your team to take full advantage of the upfit improvements made to your commercial truck or van, it is important that your team be fully educated on the upfit changes and how they should be properly used. Demonstrate the use of upfits and make the necessary recommendations on how tools, items, and equipment should be used and maintained.
Not only with this help to promote safety and work efficiency but your team members are much more likely to care for the vehicle and equipment.
Camco provides commercial truck upfitting and van upfitting services in the Rio Grande Valley.
At Camco Wheel & Axle, we put the extra effort to provide topnotch truck upfit and van upfit services. With over 30 years of experience and top quality accessories, as well as our very own fabrication and upfitting center, we can meet your needs no matter what they are.