Learn about the importance of ergonomics in the workplace, ergonomic hazard prevention, and ergonomic principles to improve quality of work and productivity.
Ergonomics in the Workplace
Around two million work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) occur yearly in the United States alone ( source). Many of these are caused by ergonomic work-related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome alone, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, muscle strains, and low back injuries due to risk factors like high task repetition, forceful exertions, and repetitive awkward postures. Ergonomics in the workplace help ensure that objects and movements are comfortable and safe for all employees. Conduct regular ergonomic safety inspections to reduce work-related injuries and improve quality of work-life and employees’ productivity.
Ergonomic hazards can be prevented by following these safety measures:
- Redesign workstations to eliminate awkward postures.
- Provide adjustable equipment that can be used by workers to allow neutral postures.
- Maintain good body posture.
When transporting and handling
- Be knowledgeable about body limitations.
- Provide carts for transporting materials to eliminate lifting.
- Require all loads to be labeled with their weight.
- When lifting, keep your back straight and lift with your legs.
- Assign two or more staff to lift heavy objects depending on weight.
- Lift slowly and carefully.
- Don’t twist or turn your spine while carrying the load.
- Use shoulder pads to cushion loads carried on the shoulder.
- Use knee pads for kneeling tasks.
- Store materials at waist height to minimize reaching.
- Design containers with handles for easy gripping.
Staff scheduling and training
- Rotate workers among different tasks to avoid repetitive motions.
- Improve the work schedule to minimize excessive overtime that causes fatigue.
- Increase staff to reduce individual workloads.
- Provide sufficient employee breaks.
- Adequate recovery time can reduce fatigue.
- Provide workers with training on ergonomics policies and procedures.
- Follow good housekeeping practices.
- Keep floors free of obstruction.
- Use tools in good condition that fits the hand.
- Properly maintain power tools to reduce exposure to vibration.
- Use gloves to protect against vibration and rough surfaces.
- Always practice proper machine handling.
Follow these 10 ergonomic principles to help reduce injuries and improve productivity tasks in the workplace.
1. Joints must be in a neutral position
In the neutral position the muscles and ligaments, which span the joints, are stretched to the least possible extent
2. Keep work close to the body
If the work is too far from the body, the arms will be outstretched and the trunk bent over forwards
3. Avoid bending forward
The further the trunk of the upper body is bent forward, the harder it is for the muscles and ligaments of the back to maintain the upper body in balance.
4. A twisted trunk strains the back
Twisted postures of the trunk cause undesirable stress to the spine.
5. Alternate posture as well as movements
No posture or movement should be maintained for a long period of time. Prolonged postures and repetitive movements are tiring.
6. Avoid excessive reaches
It is necessary to limit the extent of forward and sideways reaches to avoid having to bend over or twist the trunk
7. Avoid carrying out tasks above shoulder level
The hands and elbows should be well below shoulder level when carrying out a task
8. Limit the weight of a load that is lifted
Be guided on weight limits
9. Avoid carrying loads with one hand
When only one hand is used to carry a load, the body is subject to mechanical
10. Use mechanical aids
Many lifting accessories are available to help lift and move loads
iAuditor is the world’s most powerful inspection app that can be used to record data, capture and annotate photos while performing assessments in the workplace. Get started with these free customizable templates to ensure ergonomics is applied by employees when performing their jobs.