Ergonomics attempts to match workers with suitable jobs, taking into consideration the type of work, the environment, and the tools being used. As we continue to shed light on various aspects of creating a healthy workplace, it seemed an important topic. Not only will your employees appreciate knowing you are concerned with their day-to-day comfort, but future injuries and associated costs can be avoided too.
Acute injuries due to falls or lifting are best avoided by ensuring the worker doing the job is suited and trained for tasks requiring specific levels of physical capacity. Other, less tangible, ergonomic issues which can cause injury include posture, repetitive movements, and working with vibrating equipment.
What works for one person may not work for the next, but issues are commonly the result of doing the same thing over and over for long periods of time. The ideal ergonomic configuration includes a combination of sitting, standing, and walking. The best position, similarly, is a variety of positions, where loads are distributed equally on several parts of the body, resulting in decreased opportunity for physical strain due to repetition. Consider the following factors in assisting your workers with ergonomic improvements:
- Workstation set up
- Body positioning
- Space around workstation
- Foot rests
- Standing surface
- Lifting/ excessive force requirements
- Pre-existing medical conditions
Let your employees know that you are concerned with their comfort and well-being by encouraging them to try different chairs, desks, and other equipment. Also you might want to consider having an ergonomist visit the workplace to suggest small but effective safety improvements.
Remember that the ideal ergonomic setup is one that changes frequently, so encourage workers to take short breaks, vary their physical positioning, and express concerns as soon as they arise. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has a full library of ergonomics resources for you and your workers to better understand this important topic.
*What did your last ergonomic inspection reveal?