As in our private lives, we are not always aware of the kilos we are lifting and carrying at work - especially when we go about it with "oh, it's only", just "once" or "on the fly". We often only look at the work process when health problems arise.

Not in Eric Krohn's case. His area of work is essentially about weightless bits and bites, but actually involves real loads. The data center specialist at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is responsible for the company's physical IT infrastructure. This includes server cabinets, for example, where a single rack can weigh as much as 135 kilos and a cabinet over 500 kilos. The cabinets, in turn, are air-cooled via a false floor. The floor panels are no lightweights either. In addition to hearing protection, safety shoes are therefore mandatory in the server room, as are cut-resistant gloves for certain tasks.

Krohn and his colleagues are currently replacing the various devices in the server cabinets in the Kiel data center; the life cycle of the technology makes this necessary every five years or so.

Eric Krohn is not an occupational safety officer. Not in an official capacity, anyway. But according to his self-image, he is. "If I have a task, then I take care of it," he says. "But then I go about it properly and holistically." So instead of somehow maneuvering the cabinets away and into their new position with combined muscle power, Krohn approached his superior with a proposed solution. A mechanical lifting device would make moving the heavy equipment safe and health-friendly. Same as a second one would on the second floor of the data center, which is not barrier-free. Not cheap, but the chances for the investment are good. After all, a fundamental solution to a recurring problem is needed here.

Heavy lifting done wrong - easier than most people think

How often do we lift, carry or handle something heavy? During the day, during the week? A crate of water with 750 ml glass bottles, for example, weighs 17.5 kg, a car tire 9 kg, larger ones 12 kg. All too often, we heave such and other loads "on the fly" and with little awareness of the right what and how. This can pose real risks to our health, both privately and at work, more quickly than we would like.

That's why the topic of the next we care days is ergonomics - the science of adapting work to people and, ideally, to the individual.

So-called "manual load handling", i.e. lifting, carrying, holding, pulling, pushing, etc., are just as much a focus as awkward and static postures, manual forceful and frequently repetitive movements, sitting or standing for long periods of time.

All of this can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. These cause ailments that often result in long periods of absence. In Germany they account for more than 20% of absences from work overall. [Source: Absenteeism report of the AOK Health Insurance 2022]. In 2022, the resulting costs alone were estimated at 19.6 billion euros.

Eric Krohn certainly wants to prevent himself or his colleagues from becoming part of these statistics. "Occupational health and safety is not an isolated issue, but something that should always be factored in." The 60-year-old has been working at thyssenkrupp Marine Systems in various roles since 1995. He cannot yet say whether he will still be responsible for the next server replacement. But even if he isn't, he doesn't want his future colleagues to have to fear any health problems, because he did his job properly today and not just "on the fly".

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