Health & Wellness
THE IMPORTANCE OF ERGONOMICS
Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, sitting too long in one position, working with poorly set-up workstations, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors increases a worker’s risk of injury. Ergonomics — fitting a job to a person — helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Here are some ways to use ergonomics best practices to your advantage:
1. Utilize Engineering Controls: Introduce physical change to the workplace and eliminate/reduce job hazards through the use of devices to lift and reposition heavy objects and limit force exertion, reduce the weight of the load to limit force exertion, reposition work tables to eliminate long/excessive reaches, redesign tools to enable neutral postures.
2. Implement Administrative and Work Practice Controls: Establish efficient processes or procedures to better match the work tasks with worker capabilities, such as: requiring heavy loads to be lifted by two people, alternating heavy and light lifting tasks, modify work practices so workers operate within their ‘power zone’ (above the knee, below the shoulder, and close to the body), establish systems so workers are rotated away from tasks to minimize the duration of continual exertion, repetitive motions, and awkward postures, properly use and maintain pneumatic and power tools, and provide short breaks for recovery time.
3. Utilize Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Use PPE to reduce exposure to ergonomics-related risk factors — examples include using padding to reduce contact with hard, sharp, or vibrating surfaces, and wearing good-fitting thermal gloves to help with cold conditions while maintaining the ability to grasp items easily.
4. Movement is Key: If you have stationary or computer-related work to do, ensure you do not sit too long at your workstation/in your chair or stay sedentary for long periods of time.
5. Seek Help: Do not ignore pain. Inform your supervisor immediately if you experience ergonomic discomfort on the job.