LINcast U.S. Episode 3: Prioritizing Safe Access for Trucks and Equipment

How can injuries be prevented in agriculture, construction and trucking? LINcast host Gabe Duverge invited TECHLINE Sales Manager at LINAK U.S. Dave Moorman to discuss how adding motion to equipment and vehicles can solve this safety issue in the latest LINcast podcast episode.

Prioritizing safety for trucks and mobile agriculture equipment.

 

Full Transcipt

Gabe Duverge:                  Hello, and welcome to LINcast, a LINAK podcast featuring conversations exploring the latest research and innovation behind actuation solutions. We're improving people's quality of life and working environments through smooth and reliable movement. My name is Gabe Duverge. Today I'm joined by Dave Moorman. Dave is a sales manager for TECHLINE at LINAK US. TECHLINE is a division of LINAK focused on electrical actuator solutions created for heavy-duty tasks in industries such as construction, trucking, and agriculture. In this episode, we want to discuss a topic that affects many people in these industries who use heavy equipment, machines, and other vehicles. The issue is preventing injuries and time off for employees. With an aging population in this workplace, the risk of injuries is increasing. The average age of the American worker is rising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said in 2016 that the average age of the labor force was 42. That's a big jump from 38 in 1996. How does this compare to industries that the TECHLINE division is currently focused on, Dave?

Dave Moorman:               Gabe, we're focused on three industries we're going to talk about today. And it's the agricultural industry, construction, mining, and forest equipment, and trucking and delivery. These industries and equipment rank in the 10 most dangerous occupations. There's approximately seven million people in these industries.

Gabe Duverge:                  What are the biggest factors that are affecting employees in these industries?

Dave Moorman:               Gabe, US demographics and the growing age of participants is a major factor. Let's take a quick review of some of these industries. 63% of principle farmer operators are over the age of 55. Looking at this number a bit closer, 34% are over retirement age of 65. Only 16% of farmers are under the age of 45. This presents a number of challenges in the industry as one of the most significant in the ability of this group to physically function in the environment where equipment is larger and requires a certain level of fitness to even enter or exit a machine.

Dave Moorman:               In the construction industry, the average age has grown from 36 to 42.6 in 2017. Trucking, this is an industry that needs almost 900,000 drivers, because 70% of our goods move by truck, and the average age is now 55 years old. That's a full 10 years older than manufacturing or construction.

Gabe Duverge:                  Those are some staggering statistics, Dave. But what are some of the specific issues that are present for workers in these industries?

Dave Moorman:               Gabe, machine and vehicle access is a large concern. Just getting in and out of the cab of this machinery is the first step to mitigating injury. Many of these machines have operator cabs seven to 10 feet above the ground. So a slip, trip, or stumble can cause a significant injury. Another factor many times overlooked is a lack of safe, easy access that forces operators to sit more than they should. This leads to fatigue, ambulatory and circulatory issues. And it's especially true in an aging workforce that we have discussed. Servicing the machines can be a challenge. Many of the heavy hood lifts are above shoulder height, can cause ergonomic injuries, and do to repetitive motions or stress and strain of pushing, pulling, and reaching. One of the last factors, regardless of the industry, is better access for people with limited mobility. While it's an issue in all of these industries, the ag industry and its aging workforce is a particular concern.

Gabe Duverge:                  Why should employers and manufacturers be concerned about the specific access and ergonomics for vehicles and machines?

Dave Moorman:               Gabe, in short, two things. We need to improve safety and reduce lost time injuries in the workplace. Consider these injury statistics. 120,000 farmers are injured every year with 6,000 of these resulting in permanent disability. Four construction workers die every day from work related incidents. And those over 55 are 80% at higher risk than those under 35 of an injury. Truck drivers rank 6th among all workers for non-fatal injuries and are three times more likely than the typical American worker to have an injury or an illness that requires days off. Additionally, these drivers take up to 20 days to recover, while the national average is nine.

Gabe Duverge:                  Are there any specific design features that we can implement that can make these industries safer, easier, and more productive for workers?

Dave Moorman:               Well, first we want to prevent strenuous motion by adding access movement to this equipment. Adjustable ladders for heavy equipment. Steps or platforms on trucks that can be raised or lowered. Think of these like mini elevators. Retractable entry and exit platforms that auto deploy when required. Many of these solutions can be triggered by the machine's electronics when it's either put in park or the seat switch is activated. Easier access in these machines saves time and money, and decreases injuries.

Gabe Duverge:                  Dave, how can LINAK and its products help these companies that want to improve vehicle access for their employees?

Dave Moorman:               Gabe, we have a wide range of products with a variety of options. These include voltage, force, and control. Our voltage range goes up to 48. We have actuators that can put up to 3,000 pounds of force. And we have a number of different control options, including our new ... which uses CAN bus control. TECHLINE is very fortunate, because we have a full engineering staff that can work with customers and they have a wide range of experience to help customers come up with solutions for both updating a current piece of equipment, or working on a new platform. Gabe, the accessibility features we've talked about can lead to a reduction in injuries, higher worker retention, and help companies recruit for the future. Because as we know, labor has become a very big issue in our economy.

Gabe Duverge:                  Thank you Dave for your insight on this important topic of safety and access for harsh industries, such as farming, construction, and trucking. I'd like to thank everyone for listening. And you can find more articles and topics at linak-us.com.

 

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