If you could guess the one word that can reduce both illness and injury, what would you say? Ergonomics? Yes!
Ergonomics is the science of creating workplace conditions to fit the physical capabilities of the workforce. In addition to reducing employee illness and injury, successful ergonomics enhances employees’ job satisfaction and increases productivity.
The goal of an ergonomics program is to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). WMSDs are injuries of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, and spine. They are typically caused by gradual or repeated exposure over a period of time.
Workplace factors that directly lead to WMSDs include:
- Position – Postures or positions requiring joints to be used in their extreme ranges or remain in a fixed position for extended periods of time
- Movement – Static movement (requiring little movement) or repetitive movement
- Force – Amount of pressure concentrated on muscles or small parts of the body
- Environment – Work pace, temperature, vibration, and available time to rest and recover
Common disorders include:
- Carpal Tunnel – Compression of the median nerve in wrist
- Tendonitis – Inflammation of tendons
- Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow) – Inflammation and soreness of the elbow
An employer, such as a plastic manufacturer, can develop an ergonomics plan that will help keep employees safe and minimize injuries. The plan will also make workstations user friendly, increase production and employee morale, and create a more comfortable environment.
For more information on the important steps to create a successful ergonomics plan, click here.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has developed a primer that has many useful suggestions and materials to help create an effective ergonomics culture.