Ergonomics is defined as information about human behaviour, abilities and limitations and other characteristics to the design of tools, machines, tasks, jobs and environments for productive, safe, comfortable and effective human use. Ergonomic assessments (workstation assessments), helps to make the workstation ergonomically designed so as to minimise the risk of injury and maximise output and productivity.
It also helps to minimize the effort and increase comfort and efficiency to work in case of an injured patient, people who work from home so as to make their home work environment is safe and ergonomically designed.As per Safety, health and welfare at Work Act 2005, an employer must provide a safe working environment to avoid all work hazards.
Work related upper limb disorders (WRULDs), Repetitive strain injuries (RSI), back and neck pains, muscle strains etc. can be avoided.
Ergonomics is the study of work in relation to the environment in which it is performed(the workplace) and those who perform it(workers).It is a broad science involving the wide variety of working condition that can affect worker’s comfort and health, including factors such as lighting, noise, temperature, workstation design, tool design, machine design, chair design, footwears, job design including factors such as shifts of work, breaks and meal schedules.
Employer as well as the employee , both are benefitted.
Employee – gets healthier and safer working conditions
Employer – increased productivity
Injuries associated with non-application of ergonomic principles proves costly to both workers and employers as ergonomically designed workplace can –
- Reduce injury
- Increase productivity
- Increase morale of employee
- Reduce absenteeism
In an ergonomic workplace, tasks and tools are designed to fit individual capabilities so people can do their jobs without being injured and foster highest level of function.
With 8 or more hours spent at the workplace each day, your body can be subjected to harmful repetitive motions and postures throughout the course of your workday.it involves the study of how body and mind can achieve optimal function while carrying out daily tasks within workplace.
Let a supervisor know immediately if you experience –
- Pain or aches
- Fingers turning white and losing sensation
Reasons for workplace injuries –
- Repeated use over time of vibrating tools and equipment
- Tools and tasks which require twisting hand or joint movements
- Applying force in awkward position
- Applying excessive pressure
- Working with arms outstretched or overhead or with bent back
- Lifting or pushing heavy loads
It often develops slowly over period of months or years.
If workers ignore symptoms for too long , you may eventually be unable to perform your current job. They may have to permanently transfer jobs, undergo physiotherapy or even have surgery. In the very worst cases, they may develop such a major and painful disability that they’re unable to work. Without the application of ergonomic principles, workers are often forced to adapt themselves to poor working condition.
It is designed to provide the maximum amount of comfort for the user. The objective is to “fit the workplace to the worker, not the worker to the workplace. Sitting for long periods of time places a great deal of stress on the body when it transfers full weight of upper body to buttocks, thighs and intervertebral discs.
Ergonomic Assessment Tools
These standard tools are used for assessing the ergonomics -
- WISHA Lifting Calculator
- NIOSH Lifting Equation
- Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA)
- Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)
- Liberty Mutual Manual Material Handling Tables
- Washington State Ergonomic and MSD Risk Assessment
Let’s check out your ergonomics in a while …
Is your computer/laptop monitor screen at eye level?
Is the distance from monitor screen to your eyes is at least 20 inches (50 cm)?
Do you flex your wrist while typing?
Do you slouch in front while typing?
Are your feet flat on the floor with your hips at a 90–120° angle while sitting?
Can you adjust the height and angle of your monitor, keyboard and chair?
Do you stand at regular intervals while you work?