Ergonomics is mostly overlooked when thinking about potential hazards that exist in the workplace. This is because injuries caused by poor ergonomics are not as obvious as injuries caused from falls or chemical substances. However, ergonomics injuries can be detrimental to the workplace if hazards that cause them are not attended to. It is important because when you’re doing a job and your body is stressed by wrong posture, extreme temperature, or repeated movement your musculoskeletal system is affected. Your body may begin to have symptoms such as fatigue, discomfort, and pain, which can be the first signs of a musculoskeletal disorder.
The major goal of practicing good ergonomics in the workplace is to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, strained muscles, and ruptured discs, just to name a few. MSDs resulting from poorly designed work stations can lead to reduced productivity, missed time, loss of income, pain and suffering that impacts both workers and their friends and families.
The following are factors are responsible for developing an MSD.
- Heaving lifting
- Push or pull
- Awkward or prolonged postures
- Repetitive activities
- Overhead work
- Contact stress
Advantages of ergonomics
- Fewer employees experiencing pain →Implementing ergonomic improvements can reduce the risk factors that lead to discomfort.
- Increased productivity →Ergonomic improvements can reduce the primary risk factors for MSDs, so workers are more efficient, productive and have greater job satisfaction.
- Increased morale →Attention to ergonomics can make employees feel valued because they know their employer is making the workplace safer.
- Reduced absenteeism →Ergonomics leads to healthy and pain-free workers who are more likely to be engaged and productive.
To reduce the risk of MSDs, practice good ergonomics in the workplace. Consider these simple tips, and start practicing them today!
- Practice Good Posture
Good posture is more than finding a comfortable position to work or what “feels right.”, especially when you consider some positions, while comfortable for you, it may not be ergonomically correct. Always assume a good sitting position and working position.
- Work on your routine
Repeating the same movement continuously through-out the day can cause strains. If it is possible to alternate tasks, it is advisable to do so. If job rotation or alternating tasks throughout the shift is unrealistic, be sure to incorporate several rest breaks. Stretch during breaks, or do simple exercises to keep your muscles and tendons from becoming tense or strained.
- Lift with your Knees – Never lift with the muscles in your back. Lift with your knees.
- Get a good working Chair
If you sit at desk most of the day, you need an ergonomic chair that has various settings for a variety of postures. The best chairs have adjustable height, arm rest, lumbar support, and seat pan depth settings. If your feet don’t reach the floor, a foot rest should be used with the chair, it doesn’t matter how well the chair is adjusted if you do not sit in it properly!
- Make your Computer Work for You
Your computer station needs to work for you. Your keyboard and mouse should be at the same level, with the weight of your arms supported by the armrests of the chair. The keyboard and mouse should also be positioned so that your wrists remain straight. If you need to look at documents as you type, ensure that you have a document holder.
- Care for your Eyes
Eye strain is common in workers who spend a lot of their day looking at computer monitors. Adjust your monitor so that it is at eye level when sitting straight in your chair. Ensure that you look at it directly, and that it’s not angled.