The topic Ergonomics is frequently neglected when identifying potential workplace hazards.
This is due to the fact that injuries resulting from poor ergonomics are not easily noticed as those caused by falls from height or thermal and chemical burns and also because these injuries are swept under the carpet and generalized as stress.
The truth however remains that ergonomics injuries are a major workplace hazard that is detrimental to the workforce if they remain unidentified and left uncontrolled.
What does the word Ergonomics entail?
Ergonomics is an important approach to overall posture in the workplace which include healthy mobility, seating, and arrangement of work tools in synergy with workers’ body position as expected in the workplace.
Workplace ergonomics is defined as the science of designing the workplace, keeping in mind the capabilities and limitations of the worker, ensuring that a person’s work environment is adapted to their body and not their body trying to adapt to the work environment.
This is because poor worksite design will inevitably lead to workers getting fatigued and frustrated causing a decline in productivity level, missed time, loss of income, increased insurance claims, pain and the suffering that impacts both workers and their friends and families.
Aim of Workplace Ergonomics
Workplace ergonomics is aimed at identifying monotonous behaviors, movements, and postures that can cause musculoskeletal discomforts (MSDs) which include but are not limited to muscle strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, ruptured disc, tendonitis and possibly headaches and eye strain.
By suiting a work environment to the health needs of workers, organizations can improve the well-being of their employees, increase productivity, and also derive many other positive business outcomes.
Importance of Workplace Ergonomics
The following are some of the importance of workplace ergonomics:
Prevention and control of workplace injuries.
Increases workers productivity levels and efficiency.
Enhances quality of work performed.
Increases workers’ engagement.
Decreases absence from work and turnover.
Reduces and manages healthcare expenses.
Reduces employees’ compensation claims.
Creates a safe and comfortable work environment.
Increases productive time.
Organizations that are concerned about their workers well-being prioritize ergonomics by investing in the right ergonomic solutions in order to improve workplace culture, improve employee safety leading to better engagement, increased retention, and potentially improved talent recruitment.
The following tips will help ensure better comfort and safety in the workplace:
Perform a workplace ergonomics assessment: The first step in investing in the right ergonomic solution is to conduct a thorough workplace ergonomic assessment right before implementing the strategies. This will help the managers understand their workers needs and also help in identifying the vital areas of improvement as well as the type of the ergonomic solution required for each specific work role.
Invest in the right office furniture and equipment: After the ergonomic assessment has been carried out and potential risks identified, the next step is to adopt solutions which include investing in ergonomic office furniture, like standing, adjustable office desks, chairs, and footrests which help improve blood circulation and alleviate compression in the low back, shoulder and neck, LED lighting, a computer mouse that fits the shape of the hand, a keyboard that’s curved or split to accommodate relaxed shoulders and arms, monitor risers that keep the head and neck aligned preventing strain and promotes good posture generally.
Build an ergonomic workspace: It is crucial to build a workspace that complements the type of work an employee spends most of their time doing. Such that the workspace is set up so that everything that is needed is within arm’s reach to prevent repetitive reaching and stretching across or away from the body. This paints the ideal workspace picture.
Address environmental ergonomics: Apart from investing in the workspace, the work environment must be tended to as well because ergonomics goes beyond office equipment, furnitures and computer equipment. How is your office environment and its surrounding designed? Natural lighting or daylight should be maximized, where inadequate, artificial illumination should be employed to improve lighting quality. Also the amount of noise pollution, echoes and other disturbing sounds should be eliminated completely, if not, they should be reduced to the barest minimum through proper acoustic insulation. Sufficient ventilation should be ensured as it increases alertness.
In-between movement breaks should be encouraged: Every organization must understand that there is a symbolic relationship between ergonomics and workplace posture and so when formulating its wellness policy, it must be incorporated. Workers should be encouraged to take movement breaks in order to help reduce and reverse posture problems that result from sitting for too long, slouching and hunching. While taking these breaks, a lot of stretching should be done to help lengthen the muscles, improve blood circulation and reduce possible eye strain and headaches.
Enlighten employees on remote/workspace ergonomics: Employees should be provided with workplace as well as remote ergonomics training in order to help remote workers get the same support as workers in offices and help office workers set up remote ergonomic workspaces. Regular check-in on remote workers’ safety and comfort is also very important.
If musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace must be dealt with, then there is need for organizations to engage in workplace ergonomics. This guide if strictly adhered to will not only ensure employees’ safety and wellness showing that the organization prioritizes their well-being but will also increase quality work output.