Most employees who feel at ease at their workplaces perform their tasks with a positive attitude and motivation.
Satisfied teams are characterised by a higher quality of work and achieve their objectives faster and more effectively. Ergonomically designed office equipment and optimised working processes decisively contribute to well-being in everyday working life. Latest trends and innovative products and methods will be presented at this year’s A+A, the International Trade Fair with Congress for Safety, Security and Health at Work in Düsseldorf. Ergonomics at the workplace, however, also make sense from an entrepreneurial point of view: they reduce musculoskeletal diseases in employees and this means fewer lost days and higher productivity.
While office jobs are associated with plenty of sitting, many workers on assembly lines or in shipping departments have to stand more than seven hours a day. This adds up to over 1,800 hours a year. Hard floors increase the physical stress by one-sided strains which, in turn, increase pressure on joints and cause long-term illness.
Discussions about the future of work and workplace 4.0 centre around creating optimum conditions for all, for instance for mobile standing. Here special floor mats can have a supportive effect. “Mats with high damping properties save the joints while reducing noise levels. They are in high demand in logistics centres or in dry areas of industrial production,” explains Martina Baumgärtner, Head of the German service office of Ergomat, a manufacturer of products for various work areas and with different functionalities.
Some mats come with a surface designed to catch oil, chemicals, chips or other dirt particles at industrial workplaces to prevent workers from slipping. Other products rest on little webs or suction cups. Even when liquids are spilled these ensure secure footing since the liquids can drain through the raised design. Mats with coloured coatings mark walking areas or danger zones in manufacturing areas or halls. Silver-coated products can even address the issue of maximising brightness in windowless production areas and halls as they reflect three times more light than dark mats.
Industrial workplaces increasingly rely on robots as colleagues, in order to spare humans straining jobs such as lifting heavy loads or working overhead. In the automation industry the future belongs to collaborating robots as the missing link between a purely human workplace and fully automated production.
“There is particular importance attached to performance and force monitoring,” says Dr. Matthias Umbreit, Head of the Machines, Robotics and Wood Working Department at the Wood and Metal Trade Association. He goes on to elucidate: “Robots that are specifically designed for human-robot collaboration (HRC) detect the contacts between a robot or tool and a person and can, therefore, switch off the robot before injuries occur.”
So far HRC systems have made inroads in the automotive industries and OEMs, precision mechanics and electrotechnical production or in the chemical and plastics industry. Possible industrial applications for robot systems will be presented by Universal Robots, a company represented at A+A for the first time.
Indoor climate is gaining increasing importance for health and safety at work. “A relative air humidity of 40% to 50% is ideal,” says Dominic Giesel, Marketing Director at Condair Systems who adds: “A relative air humidity of below 40% keeps viruses active for hours and spreads them through the entire building – the danger of infections rises.” In winter the relative air humidity often goes down to as little as 10% in many offices. Once the air is too dry, our mucous membranes dry out, our eyes start burning and our voice fails us.
Direct room humidification is possible in all rooms today – in new and old buildings, in big and small rooms. Here sanitised water is sprayed as a visible mist into the room via hand-sized nozzles connected to the water supply. This procedure is suited to large rooms such as open-space offices used by insurance companies or call centres. Here the need for humidity is high since employees talk a lot and their vocal apparatus requires moisture. The situation is similar in jobs where people spend long periods in front of monitors. Dry air dries up the tear ducts and increases the risk of conjunctivitis. According to studies carried out by Barmer Ersatzkasse, to the tune of eight million people suffer from this clinical pattern called “office-eye-syndrome”.
A study conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute “Luftfeuchtigkeit am Büroarbeitsplatz” (Air Humidity at the Office Workplace) dating back to 2014 shows that the humidification of indoor air by means of very fine aerosols that are visible and also perceivable in the vicinity of the humidifiers, are perceived as positive. 38.5% of the people polled welcomed the method and rated the indoor climate as refreshing and performance-enhancing. In industrial sectors optimal air humidity helps ensure quality. It contributes to avoiding electrostatic charging – which is of major importance in the electronics industry. “There are no legal provisions governing air humidity,” explains Giesel who goes on to say: “But the rising significance of corporate health management moves the importance of air humidification more and more centre stage.” At A+A Condair will exhibit solutions such as direct room humidification.
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