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.

safe ergonomics

General Ways to Prevent Ergonomic Hazards

Ergonomic hazards can be prevented by following these safety measures:

Workstation improvements

  • Redesign workstations to eliminate awkward postures.
  • Provide adjustable equipments that can be used by workers to allow neutral postures.
  • Maintain good body posture.

When transporting and handling

  • Be knowledgeable on 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 movement.
  • Improve 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.

General housekeeping

  • 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.
safe ergonomics office ergonomics transport ergonomics

10 Simple Ergonomic Principles to Follow

Follow these 10 ergonomic principles to help reduce injuries and improve productivity tasks in the workplace.

joints neutral

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

work close to body

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

bending forward

3. Avoid bending forward

The further the trunk of the upper body is bent forwards, the harder it is for the muscles and ligaments of the back to maintain the upper body in balance.

twisted trunk

4. A twisted trunk strains the back

Twisted postures of the trunk cause undesirable stress to the spine.

alternate posture

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.

excessive reaches

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

above shoulder level

7. Avoid carrying out tasks above shoulder level

The hands and elbows should be well below shoulder level when carrying out a task

weight load lifted

8. Limit the weight of a load that is lifted

Be guided on weight limits

carrying one hand

9. Avoid carrying loads with one hand

When only one hand is used to carry a load, the body is subject to mechanical

carrying one hand

10. Use mechanical aids

Many lifting accessories are available to help lift and move loads

ergonomic checklist app
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Ergonomic Checklists

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. Browse for other free ergonomic checklists here.

  1. OSHA Ergonomic Computer Workstation Checklist
  2. OSHA Ergonomic Assessment Checklist
  3. Ergonomic Safety Checklist
  4. SafetyFirst Workstation Ergonomic Evaluation Checklist

Follow these 5 steps to start performing mobile inspections

  1. Create a free iAuditor account to get started
  2. Download a template above and modify it for your workplace or browse other checklist topics
  3. Install the iAuditor app on your mobile or tablet and perform an inspection
  4. Take photos, create actions and generate reports on your device
  5. Invite your teammates. Save time, save lives
Click here to get started