Ergonomics and Workplace injuries I Tips to improve workplace ergonomics I Ergonomic principles for Office desk, space, height, movement, sitting posture, repetitive movements, friction and access
Ergonomics at workplace has become very important as maximum part of the day is spent at workplace.
Posture while sitting, standing or working can make all the difference to your physical wellbeing giving rise to back pain, neck pain, shoulder and finger issues. Injuries that result from poor ergonomics are some of the most common and frequent kinds of injuries, and they are found in all kinds of workplaces and occupations.
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.
A number of factors play a role in Ergonomics; these include :
- Body posture and movement : sitting, standing, lifting, pulling and pushing
- Environment : noise, lighting, temperature, humidity (Dul et al 1993)
Injuries caused from poor ergonomics are some of the most common and frequent kinds of injuries, many of these being musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). They may affect various parts of the body including arms, back, hands, wrists, fingers, legs, neck, shoulders. These problems if not tackled at an early stage can lead to chronicity which then becomes difficult to handle.
People spend most of their time in sitting position (for work), maximum time is spent on mobile. The next biggest chunk of time is taken by commute – now people commute for more than an hour everyday. All these activities and many more factors can contribute to workplace injuries
What are the key risk factors?
- Working in awkward positions
- Using high hand force
- Performing repetitive motions
- Using the hand or knee to make repeated impacts
- Heavy, frequent or awkward lifting
- Exposure to moderate to high levels of vibration
- Sitting or standing too long in one position
- Mechanical pressure (leaning against a hard edge)
What can be done to improve workplace ergonomics?
Here are the steps that can be taken by an organization to improve workplace ergonomics.
- Evaluate workplace design and setting
- Identify workplace issues: Understand the work flow at the workplace and identify the movement pattern and requirements, work demands, discomforts and painful activities (if any).
- Develop ergonomic plan
- Involve and include employees: Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. While talking to them, you could also ask them some specific questions about their work such as:
- Are their working postures comfortable (or not)?
- Do they experience discomfort, aches, pain, fatigue, or feel unable to keep up with the flow of work?
- Is the equipment appropriate, easy to use and well maintained?
- Is the person satisfied with their working arrangements?
- Do they make the same errors and mistakes repeatedly?
- Are they following procedures, and if no, why not?
- Identify and implement the solution
- Re-evaluate the changes, to see if the solutions are effective
Hence, right equipment, right environment, right use/posture and right maintenance are the vital areas to be focused on.
Tips to improve workplace ergonomics:
Improving Workplace ergonomics may mean small changes to the area and furniture used at work. We list the key ergonomic principles beneath, that should be followed to make necessary changes:
Principle #1: Keep everything within easy reach
Rearrange tools and equipment, tilt work surface, reduce work surface dimensions to work within the normal range of motion.
Principle #2: Work at proper height
Elbow height is considered as the ideal height. Tilt surfaces if required.
Principle #3: Reduce excessive forces
Follow these quick and easy tips to reduce use of excessive force at
- Use double-handled tools to distribute effort
- Ensure that the tool handles have comfortable span for a good grip
- Keep loads close to the body
- Avoid bending forward
- Reduce pushing/pulling forces
- Use transport accessories wherever required
- Avoid twisting from the back
- Avoid carrying out tasks overhead / above the shoulder level
- Avoid carrying loads with one hand
Principle #4: Work with good posture:
- Maintain “neutral” posture
- Keep arms and elbows close to body
- Maintain natural curve of the back
- Keep the screen height at eye level (computer as well as mobile)
- Screen to be maintained at about arm length away
- Room lighting -avoid backlight, shadows or reflective glare
Principle #5: Reduce Excessive Repetition
Repeating the same motion with the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists or hands, every few seconds can cause soreness and eventually lead to injuries. Repetitive movements should be limited and objects and furniture should be re-arranged to minimize repetition.
Principle #6: Minimize Fatigue
- Eliminate static load
- Minimize general fatigue
Principle #7: Minimize Direct Pressure
- Minimise posture and positions that include applying direct pressure in order to avoid soft tissue (nerves, muscles, blood vessels) compression. Refer to the enclosed pictures for examples.
Principle #8: Provide Clearance & Access
- Ensure adequate workspace
- Ensure easy access to everything needed
- Visual access
Principle #9: Maintain Comfortable Environment
- Appropriate illumination
- Avoid temperature extremes
- Isolate vibration
Principle #10: Provide Adjustability & Change of Posture
- Design for adjustability
- Allow for alternate postures
In addition to the above things, physical activities, workout programs should be encouraged in the offices.
Frequent breaks should be taken to avoid prolonged exposure to the risk factors.
Last but not the least, remember that exercise is medicine. Therefore, keep exercising and stay fit.
ReLiva Physiotherapy conducts Ergonomics and Posture programmes for Corporates. If you or your organization is interested in conducting such a workshop or programme for your employees, contact us at email@example.com
At ReLiva, we want you to stay pain-free and get back to participating in the activities you enjoy as fast as possible. Get relief. Call +91 992099 1584 to speak to us today so we can connect you with a physiotherapy specialist in your area.