What is ergonomics?
In the workplace there is a massive economic cost associated with work-related injuries and illnesses. The number varies from country to country, but we know the numbers are in the billions. Ergonomics aims to create safe, comfortable and productive workspaces by bringing human abilities and limitations into the design of a workspace. In the winter we tend to spend more time at our desks, we don’t have the same desire to go for a walk on the beach when it’s cold and raining. We thought this would be a perfect time to tell our audience the importance of ergonomics in the workplace. To minimise the risk of injury or harm in the workplace we have given you a little guide below.
1. Maintain Neutral Posture
Neutral postures are postures where the body is aligned and balanced while either sitting or standing, placing minimal stress on the body and keeping joints aligned. Neutral postures minimise the stress applied to muscles, tendons, nerves and bones and allows for maximum control and force production.
2. Work in the Power / Comfort Zone
The power zone for lifting is close to the body, between mid-thigh and mid-chest height. This zone is where the arms and back can lift the most with the least amount of effort. This can also be called the “hand shake zone” or “comfort zone.” The principle here is that if you can “shake hands with your work”, you are minimising excessive reach and maintaining a neutral posture. Now when you notice workers who are working with extended reaches and at improper heights, you’ll know they are outside their comfort zone and risk factors are present.
3. Allow for Movement and Stretching
Working for long periods of time in a static position will cause your body to fatigue. This is what is known as static load.
• Raise your hands over your head for the next 30 minutes
• Remain standing in the same position for the next 8 hours
• Write with a pencil for 60 minutes straight
• If you do those things, you will experience static load. The first few seconds or minutes don’t seem too bad, but the cumulative effect of holding these seemingly stress-free positions over time will cause fatigue and discomfort.
Stretching reduces fatigue, improves muscular balance and posture and improves muscle coordination. Everyone is an athlete in life, so you need to prepare your body for work by warming up to improve performance and lower injury risk. A warm-up stretching regimen is a great way to prepare your body for work.
4. Provide Adequate Lighting
Poor lighting is a common problem in the workplace that can affect a worker’s comfort level and performance. Too much or too little light makes work difficult – just imagine trying to do your job without sight! Dimly lit work areas and glare can cause eye fatigue and headaches and improperly lit areas put workers at greater risk for all types of injuries.
By developing your “ergo eyes” and adhering to these fundamental ergonomic principles, you can help your company identify risk factors that oftentimes go unnoticed, measure that risk with an objective ergonomic evaluation and implement control measures to reduce/remove ergonomic risk factors.
Having a strong productive workforce is just as important as having strong and productive technology. We hope you enjoyed this article and move forward in having a more positive workplace.