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Alignment isn’t just for cars

Just as proper wheel alignment is critical to long tire life and vehicle performance, body alignment — ergonomics — is important to a long, productive career free of aches and pains.

Ergonomics means designing a job to fit the worker to make the task safer and more efficient. According to OSHA, implementing ergonomic solutions can make employees more comfortable and more productive. Ergonomics also reduces workers’ compensation claims and absenteeism, saving shops money.

While it’s certainly possible to detail a vehicle without a lift, doing things the old-school way involves a lot of bending, stooping, and straining that can cause muscle aches and pains, especially in backs, knees and elbows. Over time, consistently working in ways that are not ergonomic can lead to musculoskeletal disorders: injuries to muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Common musculoskeletal disorders caused by overexertion, repetitive motion and other on-the-job triggers include herniated discs, meniscus tears, sprains, strains and hernias.

OSHA states that work-related musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these disorders account for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases, representing almost 400,000 injuries per year.

Detailers’ work can be made more ergonomic with the use of a portable, low-rise car lift. A car lift puts the vehicle at a comfortable working height with the push of a button. Add a rolling work seat, and it’s possible to sit to reach the rocker panels, rotors, lower door jambs and other parts one would otherwise have to bend or stoop to access. Plus, the detailer can remove the vehicle’s wheels without getting on his or her knees at least four times to position jack stands. 

The price of high-quality, portable, low-rise car lifts starts under $1,500. It’s a small investment in employee ergonomics, safety and productivity. 

Editor’s note: In the next Shop Tip, see how to keep your lift’s hydraulic system clean.

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