Ergonomics is an improvement factor that contributes to workplace safety, quality, and productivity. While some underestimate its importance, it goes a long way to keeping workers safe, healthy, and injury free while working.
Ergonomics is a broad term involving how humans interact with their work environment and its elements. This usually refers to how they move or position their body in their work environment in various work conditions. The manner in which you handle various activities in your workspace and how your workspace mandates you to act significantly affects the quality and productivity of your work.
Poor ergonomics in a workplace can affect workers' health and reduce their efficiency in whatever job they are involved in. Ergonomics is one of the factors in the workplace that reduces injuries and accidents: however, it is hardly considered in some workplaces.
Some safety and health managers or quality managers underestimate ergonomics because the aftereffects of poor ergonomics are usually not as fatal or dangerous as the usual work accidents like falling from high places or getting injured while using sharp industrial equipment.
However, the ergonomic hazard results in a workplace are as detrimental to work quality, efficiency, and productivity as other work hazards. The ultimate reason for installing an ergonomics policy in a workplace is to combat musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, lower back pain, muscle strains, ligament tear, etc…
In most workplaces, workers are demanded to move or position their body awkwardly or improperly, repetitively, every day. Suppose measures aren't taken to ensure health safety is involved in every work activity and environment. In that case, workers could face hazards from various work activities like pulling and pushing heavy objects, lifting heavy items, repetitive bending, crouching, etc. Constant occurrence of some of these activities can negatively affect body strength and agility, thereby affecting work input.
So, what is the goal of ergonomics? It's pretty straightforward! Ergonomics policy aims to lessen work stress and fatigue, improve the well-being and efficiency of workers, and promote long-term health. The principles of ergonomics are usually applied to four basic work scenarios, which are:
Ergonomics safety ensures that the products, methods, and environment a worker uses are appropriate to fit the worker's job requirements and personal capabilities.
1. A brief history about ergonomics
2. How to improve ergonomics in workplace
3. What are the benefits of ergonomics
4. How to prevent and correct ergonomic hazard
5. The Importance of ergonomic in workplace safety
The word "ergonomics" was coined from the Greek words' ergon' and 'nomos' which mean labor and natural laws, respectively. The initial concept of ergonomics can very be traced back to the early Roman, Greek, and Egyptian dynasties. When various man-made devices, and equipment like wheels, pulleys, etc., were being built, the idea of efficiency and effectiveness of work in relation to the environment was already rising. Back in the era of ancient Egypt, laborers created these devices to minimize workload and reduce strenuous activities while working. This was the initial start of ergonomics, and it only continued to evolve.
The kinds of health problems caused by working were already a complaint during ancient Egypt, Greek, and Roman periods. After Wojciech Jastrzebowski coined the term 'ergonomics' in 1857, the principle and influence of ergonomics became more prevalent. The 18th century was when the clarification between health safety and labor was demanded. The relationship between working conditions and physiology was first studied from an occupational health and safety perspective by an Italian physician named Bernardo Ramazzini.
It was until the beginning of the 20th century that the concept of ergonomics in workplace safety finally progressed with the Introduction of preventive measures, methods, and approaches. In 1919, a Polish scientist named Józefa Joteyko published "The Science of Labor and Its Organization". This book further explored the concept of measuring occupational fatigue and scientific management of labor. Now that the world has advanced technologically, ergonomics research has expanded. Perhaps the most noteworthy development of ergonomics was in human-computer interaction, but now, the ergonomics policies have even reached activities in domestic residences.
There's a wide range of activities that help improve ergonomics in the workplace. These activities support better body postures and work processes while considering the type of work done, workers' stamina, the work environment, and the equipment with which workers work.
To improve ergonomics in the workplace, you'll have to engage in practices that support good ergonomics. It might be related to how to properly sit at a desk or carry certain items at work. Nevertheless, they are measures that will prove supportive of worker safety if consistently practiced. Below are various ways to improve ergonomics in workplaces.
Every activity performed in any workplace will involve the use of one or many parts of the body, so how you position your body while performing various tasks matters a lot. Poor body postures and positioning can make you feel fatigued while working, even if you've had enough sleep.
When parts of the body are strained due to wrong positioning, it naturally slows down your agility and activeness while working. Adhere to the following tips to maintain good body positioning while at work:
Our bodies are not machines- as much as we can work for so many hours, we need to rest and take breaks once in a while. Taking breaks while working has some positive effects on your mental fortitude, body, and environment. While working, you can decide to set a rest time for refilling your energy with water or energy drinks, stretching your body, and walking around to improve good blood flow.
When you take breaks, it can also build up your mental health. Working under pressure can sometimes cause anxiety and stress on the brain, resulting in poor assimilation and execution of tasks. Taking breaks would help relieve your mental stress at the workplace, making the continuation of work smooth and comfortable.
Do not settle for low-standard equipment that won't help you streamline tasks or make your work process efficient. For instance, request a headset from your manager instead of settling for an old-school telephone receiver, which you'll usually jam between your neck, ear, and shoulder.
In addition, position your equipment correctly so it will be easy for you to use and safely handle them. If you're working in a chemical plant, for example, wearing your robe, gloves, and goggles appropriately are one step to an ergonomically decent workspace.
If you're a desk worker with a monitor facing you, ensure the monitor is not set above eye level; if not, you'd be straining your eyes to look at the screen every time. Also, endeavor to make all equipment you intend to use is within your reach. Read instructions on how to use any equipment you're not familiar with. For more insurance, it's safe to have experienced personnel at your side if you encounter problems while handling or dealing with equipment.
Your workspace or work environment should be well-lit, even if you're using bulbs or natural lighting. Improper lighting is a significant shortcoming of workplace hazards. When the workplace isn't properly lit, it can affect workers' productivity or quality of work. It can also result in headaches, eye strain, and accidents. As a quality manager who cares about productivity and quality of work, check all the lights in your work environment to confirm if they're working and provide lamps for desk workers if necessary.
Your work environment plays a large role in ensuring your safety. The way your workspace layout is planned and the way it is designed greatly affects how easy it is for you as an employee to practice other ergonomic measures. First, your workspace has to be spacious enough to allow adequate ventilation instead of a cramped workspace. Then the placement of each piece of furniture and component of your workplace must be set so that it doesn't allow workers to get in each other's way.
Employee training is an important factor that will help improve workplace ergonomics, not just being trained in their tasks but also in implementing proper ergonomics while at work. Once there's a collective understanding of what to do to improve health, safety, and efficiency among employees, workplace ergonomics will surely thrive.
Proper ergonomics assessment in organizations causes several positive impacts. All of these are important things that every workplace wants. The benefits of proper ergonomics in a workplace are:
Some processes or methods already in place at your workplace could cause an ergonomic hazard. The only way to tend to this matter is to spot and prevent them. Take a look at some procedures on how to avoid ergonomic hazards from occurring.
The Importance of ergonomics in workplace safety can't not be overemphasized. If you think about the root cause of most workplace accidents, it has a lot to do with how workers move or interact with work equipment.
As we highlighted at the beginning of this article, ergonomics involves how a person moves and interacts with his work environment. So without careful interaction and proper body motion, employees could face circumstances threatening their mental health or even cause fatal accidents.
Imagine a worker who sits at a desk for 9 hours every day, not maintaining the right posture or not standing up to stretch his body. That would be bad for their health and body. They could face serious body pains and muscle strains that can affect the state of their mind.
Suppose an industry worker has the same bad attribute. In that case, they could feel so mentally derailed and can mistakenly place a piece of dangerous machinery in the wrong setting, which can result in fatal accidents. However, if awareness of ergonomics has been conducted, the chances of that happening will be less.
Ergonomics not only supports prioritizing the safety of employees and workspaces but also provides room for workplaces to identify various areas that could endanger their lives. For this reason, health and safety officers should emphasize the importance of ergonomics and ensure its policy doesn't fade.
Ergonomics contributes to occupational health and safety, and an ergonomically designed and organized workplace prevents employees from suffering damage due to incorrect working postures.
Particularly important for ergonomic and healthy working conditions are the following factors that promote healthy posture and protect workers:
Ergonomics is an integral part of occupational health and safety and should never be underestimated. If you take good care of your team's physical health thanks to ergonomic measures, you can incidentally also increase their productivity and reduce stress, thus ensuring a healthy working atmosphere holistically.
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