Automation of Manual Tasks to Reduce Musculoskeletal Problems and Absenteeism in a Cork Company
Alfredo Silva, Ana Luísa Ferreira Andrade Ramos, Marlene Brito, António Ramos
Although there has been an improvement in working conditions over time, as well as incentive policies, absenteeism due to occupational diseases is still one of the main issues companies have to deal with, mainly in intensive hand work labor.
This study was conducted at a Portuguese cork stoppers company, faced with a situation of high absenteeism which results in an annual loss of 1,200,000€. It aims to evaluate the company’s workstations with greater absenteeism related to musculoskeletal diseases and suggests adequate ergonomic working conditions for those workplaces. Measures such as the automation of a process are also implemented. This automation, however, results in some problems related to decreases in quality and relocation of employees.
Although the automation of the manual tasks avoids many issues related to musculoskeletal diseases, it raises other problems for companies which are difficult to manage, such as the relocation of workers and the resistance to change and new knowledge acquisition by older and more experienced workers. This work reinforces the strategic role of ergonomics in the context of absenteeism in intensive hand work labor industry.