The Greek Ergonomics of Hydraulic Lifts

by Andrea Mustine, IQS Editor

As is true of many ideologies and practices we appreciate and employ today in the twenty first century, we have the Ancient Greeks to thank for the concept of ergonomics. Even the term itself comes from the building block language that has highly influenced modern culture and many modern dialects, including English; ergon means “work” and nomos means “natural laws”. In essence, ergonomics is the science of developing a workspace as well as the tools one uses to work, with the comfort of the worker in mind. Hippocrates wrote of this concept when describing to a young worker how to design his workspace and best lay out tools for surgery. In our modern day world of machine run industry, tools such as hydraulic lifts are ergonomically designed and vital for the safety of workers today. Little did the Greeks know that their idea would develop a variety of lifts used in a wide range of industries, allowing industrial workers to stay healthy and avoid injury.

Hydraulic lifts are able to support and lift heavy or large objects that could not be moved by manual labor, including the workers themselves. They were developed to ease the strain of labor on employees, enabling them to run the machines rather then doing the grunt work. These lifts are referred to as hydraulic because they are often run by the power liquid produces when put through mechanical motion. The variety of hydraulic lifts that have been crafted for the comfort of workers is vast. An aerial lift, which is intended for lifting men or objects up to hard to reach high places, is one example of hydraulic run lifts. Pallet lifts work the same way except to a smaller height degree, since they are meant to move pallets of products from one spot to another, or simply raise the pallet high enough for easier access. Other examples include platform lifts, small hydraulic lifts and rotary lifts, all designed to make the work in an industrial setting physically easier on the laborers.

All-Rite Hydraulic LiftsImage courtesy of All-Rite Group of Companies.

Industrial settings, such as warehouses, a variety of manufacturing companies, factories and food processing companies do indeed use many variations of hydraulic lifts. However, hydraulic lifts and their ergonomic brothers, pneumatic lifts and electric lifts are not limited to this category of business. Construction workers take advantage of aerial lifts to access roofing heights as well as employing numerous forms of scissor lifts, which has a special crisscross support bottom that supports huge amounts of weight, when building industrial size buildings with giant beams and vats of mortar to move around. Transportation areas, such as train stations, bus stations, docks and airports, all utilize various lifts to load and unload baggage, be it personal or industrial. Automotive shops use vehicle lifts to raise cars, motorcycles and other varieties of vehicles to do body work and internal work more conveniently. There are so many organizations using hydraulic lifts they can not all be named, and that is because of the safety and ease they provide those running them.

The major ergonomic aspect of lifts in any and every industry is the defense against injury it supplies the working force. When a heavy object is lifted by the limited strength of a human back, hands and legs, there is always the possibility that it will be dropped and hurt the person who was carrying it or another person close by. The security of hydraulic lifts removes this risk. The rope and pulley process that was in place before hydraulic lifts could extend past a grounded man’s reach experienced the same sorts of accidents. Not only did people lose money and companies lose workers, but sometimes people lost their lives. Although safety is very important, it is not the only positive aspect of utilizing lifts. The ease with which workers can transport goods then translates into better productivity and more efficient use of space. The Greek that first decided he could make work more comfortable for himself probably had no idea that there would be massive machines one day built on the ideology he birthed, and that this would save and protect peoples lives.

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