Workplace ergonomics is getting a lot of nationwide attention in response to a sharp increase in incidents of repetitive-strain injuries resulting in musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Occupational diseases often mean repeated surgery, intractable pain, inability to work, time off for the affected employee and, ultimately, higher costs for the employer.
Below are four steps a company can take to address this growing problem.
Review tasks for risk factors: The first step to correcting problems is to understand the key workplace ergonomic risk factors, and review work tasks in your operation to see which ones apply. This can make a tremendous difference, since occupational safety professionals estimate that reducing physical stresses could eliminate as much as half the serious injuries that happen each year.
Control risk factors with engineering and administrative controls, and personal equipment, where it is effective: Engineering controls to improve ergonomic risks may include changing the way parts and materials are transported, or changing the process to reduce how workers are exposed to risk factors.
Understand how to make the work space work ergonomically: With any task, selecting the proper tool is crucial. The key is to understand the work process and employee’s safety needs. After identifying the likely risk factors in an operation, develop a safer work environment by carefully selecting the tools and work stations workers will use.
Use work station design principles to improve ergonomics: The following strategies typically yield safe work environments: make the work station adjustable, locate materials to reduce twisting, avoid static loads and fixed work postures, set the work surface to the particular task, provide adjustable chairs, allow workers to alternate between standing and sitting, support the limbs, use gravity, design for proper movements, consider computer monitors, provide simple dials and displays, and consider overall environmental conditions.
These are good steps to take, Jim, and definitely much needed. I don't work in an office environment anymore, but when I did I don't think enough attention was paid to ergonomics. Though I don't have serious physical ailments, I do have some minor complaints from being hunched over a computer for years that I think a little consideration to ergonomics might have prevented. Thanks for shining light on the problem again.
Jim, according to industrial saftey standards the employer has to appoint enough number of saftey officers for assessing various risk factors at work place and to make sure about necessary steps and precautions. But if we are looking to our industries, the number of saftey officers is very minimal and in some industries it's almost null. Then how can they ensure the saftey of employees at various working environments?
I also want to say...most people do not realize the placement of their monitor. I see it all the time. Look it up. Your eyes should gently look down towards the monitor. It reduces eye strain. I have seen montiors so far above the desk it's ridiculuos. Neck and eye strain. I read about this years ago and have adhered ever since.
Cabe, they do make gloves that help reduce the stress on your hands. I bought some years ago. They have supports in the palms and no fingers...might look into those...they helped me when I was drafting full time.
I just hate seeing people suffer using computers in situations that are totally avoildable if they just use a little common sense. Also, employers should be the ones not forcing uncormfortable computer setups on employees.
Cabe, if you are behind a computer and using one as much as you do...well I would think that you would come up with your own solution. I am behind one as much as you, and have been for more years than you for sure. I don't sit behind a desk, I don't do much of what "normal people" do...I can't. I spend too much time behind the pc, so I created my own way to make it comfortable, I suggest you do the same. It's a long road.
A customer who was thermal printing strip steel had a problem: When the strip's speed increased, the thermo printer would catch fire. When he set a flame to a piece of the strip, he couldn't get it to burn. What was the problem?
Engineers are well positioned to be the leaders for innovation in this new age of machines. Human-centered design enables us to manage the vast amounts of information and the power of technology in solving the world’s problems.