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Ergonomics and employee health

Implementing safe tools can help keep all employees healthy, productive, happy and effective.

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Rich DiPaolo is the Associate Publisher – Editorial of Professional Carwashing & Detailing magazine.

Successful carwash owners know that employees are the business’ lifeline to customers in several ways. For instance, in many cases, a carwash’s employees are the face of the location. Besides making customers’ cars look attractive and clean, these employees take on customer service roles throughout the day. And, as many owners already know, good help is not only hard to find, but also hard to keep.

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Implementing safe tools can help keep all employees healthy, productive, happy and effective. And, opportunities exist in wands and brushes to protect user health and well-being. When completing a multitude of tasks throughout the day, carwash workers use the same motions. These repetitive motions may put your workers at risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

MSDs can affect the body’s muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Most work-related MSDs develop over time and are caused either by the work itself or by the employees’ working environment. Examples of repetitive motions and work that can result in a MSD include:

  • Manual handling, which includes lifting, pulling, push/pull, carrying and holding loads;
  • Awkward postures, including reaching, stretching, crouching and kneeling;
  • Work organization, such as high work speed and time pressures;
  • Using vibrating equipment or equipment that is heavy and requires forceful exertion.

If a non-ergonomic brush handle or wand is used at your carwash location, your workers may be suffering from health problems that can range from discomfort, minor aches and pains to more serious medical conditions requiring time off from work and even medical treatment. In serious cases, treatment and recovery are often unsatisfactory and the result could be permanent disability.

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When looking for new brush types or wands, or when reexamining your current equipment, always consider important ergonomic features that protect workers’ hands, wrists, backs, neck and legs.

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