New Tool to Reduce Musculoskeletal Pain

Pictured: Michael Marcil, Operator; and Mathieu Martel, Operator. Absent: Olivier Audet, Valérie Bouchard, Andréanne Bouchard, Michael Allard, Sébastien Delisle, Roberto Villeneuve, Charles-Alexandre Tremblay, Denis Paquet, Nicolas Maltais, Martin Langlais, and Jessy Gagnon, all Vaudreuil Works employees.

Last October, an ergonomist from Olympe met with employees of Vaudreuil Works’ East Hydrate plant to review their tasks and pinpoint the pain associated with certain movements that they make in the course of their daily work. The East Hydrate Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI) Committee then developed a new tool to mitigate the musculoskeletal pain caused by these repetitive movements and by the same token improve the health of employees. This tool reduced by 75% the effort required to empty and maintain the tanks.

We were doing more work as a result of job shadowing,” said Michael Marcil, Operator. “Some employees were already in physical pain, and we did not want it to get worse. When we empty and clean the tanks, we make extended use of a 10-pound sledgehammer—we rotate it 110 times per shift for three to four hours. This repetitive movement causes back and wrist pain, among other things.

The committee’s solution was to find an existing tool that could do the rotating instead of having employees do it. “We tried several tools before coming up with the right solution for our needs,” said Michael Allard, Mechanical Technician. “We also did some research on several suppliers. The power tool that we now use was already being used by pipefitters at other plants, but we adapted it to our tasks. A manufacturer engineered some parts to make the tool fully suitable for the tasks that we perform.”

Martin Langlais, Operations Supervisor, added, “The tool quickly became popular because employees immediately saw the benefits of it. When employees use this tool, they experience less physical pain, exert less effort, and complete their tasks much more quickly.

Since the fact-based analysis conducted by the Olympe ergonomist last October, Vaudreuil Works has added an ergonomist to its work team. “Having a health professional on our team is completely new for us,” said Andréanne Bouchard, HSE Advisor. “It is reassuring, and it helps us to improve the health and safety of our employees every day.”