What does that really mean?
A recent article in American Painting Contractor addressed this recently and broke it down into three sections.
I think it is important that contractors look at this, for themselves and their employees. My husband spent the first 20 years of his painting career thinking he was invincible, always pushing himself and employees to get the job done, which he always did. He was the one who carried two five’s at a time up the stairs, sprayed for hours in 100 degree heat, skipping meals and working in unnatural positions. As he got older, it took its toll, and he decided to work smarter, not harder.
He looked for ways to accomplish this. He implemented some changes, such has using a Racatac, hand carts/wagons for moving paint and material, using extension poles, even getting the crew to do stretching before starting. We did a lot of new construction, and they took some ribbing for that from other trades!
He experimented and found that the crews were more productive when they were well rested, hydrated and had the right tools, unfortunately his body had taken too much abuse and he became completely disabled three years ago due to chronic pain. I know several other painters that suffer from the afflictions discussed in the APC article and looked for some ways to share more suggestions.
Ergonomics in the workplace:
Some tools are advertised as “ergonomic” or are designed with ergonomic features. A tool becomes “ergonomic” only when it fits the task you are performing, and it fits your hand without causing awkward postures, harmful contact pressures, or other safety and health risks. If you use a tool that does not fit your hand or use the tool in a way it was not intended, you might develop an injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, or muscle strain. These injuries do not happen because of a single event, such as a fall. Instead, they result from repetitive movements that are performed over time or for a long period of time, which may result in damage to muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, joints, cartilage, spinal discs, or blood vessels.
Awkward postures make more demands on your body. In some cases, the placement of the work piece will affect your shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, or back posture. Whenever possible, choose a tool that requires the least continuous force and can be used without awkward postures. The right tool will help you to minimize pain and fatigue by keeping your neck, shoulders, and back relaxed and your arms at your sides.
A Google search for ergonomically correct painter’s tools doesn’t really show many results for professional painters, a lot of DIY suggestions though. This brush holder from Galaxy G was the closest I could find for professionals.
One of our employee’s favorites was the Racatac, This allowed them to do low work with less stress on the back.
What are some of the methods/tools do you use? Leave a comment below.