Getting Smart with Ergonomics

 ergonomics 101

Ergonomics: the science of defining the workplace, keeping in mind the capabilities and limitations of the worker

Why choose ergonomics?

If you make improvements to the work process and work space, you are decreasing the risk of musculoskeletal injuries and increasing performance and productivity.

A variety of risks contribute to Musculoskeletal injuries. Some of these risks are at the responsibility of the workplace and some lie with the responsibility of the worker.

Ergonomics can make your employees more productive and efficient due to the job being designed for:

  • good posture
  • less exertion
  • fewer motions
  • better heights and reaches.

Poor ergonomics can be contributing to frustrated, fatigued workers that often don’t engage. These factors are more likely to lead to decrease turnover and increase absenteeism.

When your organisation shows a commitment to safety culture; worker morale will be more likely to engage about ergonomics and take certain factors into their control.

What are ergonomic Risk Factors?

1. High Task Repetition

Many work tasks are cyclical and repetitive in nature. This can result in high force or awkward postures, which can contribute to serious injuries. A job will be considered highly repetitive if the cycle time is 30 seconds or less.

Controls methods to consider: stretch breaks, job rotation, work practice controls and codes of best practice.

2. Forceful Exertions

Many tasks require high force loads on employees, when muscle effort has to increase in response this can sometimes lead to injuries.

Control methods to consider: workers that have manual handling and work techniques training, work practice controls and the use of mechanical assists.

3. Repetitive & Continued Awkward Postures

Excessive force on joints, muscles and tendons can often be the result of awkward postures. Constricting joints repetitively or for a sustained period of time cause them to work inefficiently.

Controls to consider: eliminate or reduce awkward postures with ergonomic modifications, job rotation, stretch breaks and best codes of practice.

What Ergonomic Tool Assessment should I use?

 

Ergonomic Assessment Tool Use

 

TYPE OF TASK ERGONOMIC ASSESSMENT TOOL

 

Lifting/Lowering WISHA Lifting Calculator
Upper Body Posture Rapid Upper Limb Assessment
Entire Body Posture Rapid Entire Body Assessment
Pushing, Pulling & Carrying Snook Tables
Vibration Hand-arm Vibration Calculator
WISHA Lifting Calculator

An ergonomic assessment tool for manual handling tasks. This simple tool is useful for a wide variety of manual lifting and lowering tasks. Alternatively, it can be a screening tool to identify lifts that are not safe to complete. The calculator produces a lift index which estimates the physical demand and stress on the body. The higher this index the smaller chance that the lift is safe, optimal lifting index is of 1.0 or less.

WISHA

Rapid Upper Limb Assessment

A single worksheet or online form which evaluates body posture, force and repetition in relation to the risk of injury. A score is given to each part of the body, from this a single score is calculated; representing the MSI risk.

RULA

Rapid Entire Body Assessment

This tool uses a systematic approach to evaluate the posture of the whole body and risks associated with the task. A Reba assessment form is usually one worksheet designed for ease of use and creating a scoring of MSI risk. A score of 11+ is a very high risk and change needs implementing asap.

REBA

Hand Arm Vibration Calculator

Vibration from a work process into worker’s hands and arms can affect health. The final score of the HAV calculator produces Total Exposure Points; if this score exceeds 100 this indicates an increased risk to employees. Controls should be implemented to reduce this risk. A total exposure score of over 400; indicates that safe limits have been exceeded and employees are at great risk.

HACS

Are you sitting comfortably?

The cost of sick days from problems like back pain is an ever increasing issue for many businesses. Ergonomics is one area where you can tackle sick days head on.

The aim should be to create a workstation which suits the height of the user and the task at hand. Whilst being uncluttered and using all available space to create an efficient workspace.

When a workstation has been configured correctly it will decrease stress in muscles and also enable productive work throughout the shift.

Ergonomics goes beyond the position of the chair and the height of the workbench. Real ergonomics encompasses lighting, noise absorption, body movements and air quality.

Location of correct view angle

Focus points should follow these guidelines

  • Continual movement should be in the 30 degrees’ sector
  • Continuous view angle should keep the head in a comfortable position – the line of view should be between 10 – 40 degrees below the horizontal line
  • Displays should be positioned 20 degrees below the horizontal line

To help employees have the best working position it is worth while companies investing in height adjustable workbenches. These can be altered to suit the task in hand and the person at the workbench. Ergonomics can also be improved by using a selection of above the bench accessories which ensure that all parts are close to hand, this avoids twisting and turning. Overhead workbench lighting will also help by improving visibility for close work.

How to reduce the risk of long term injury at your desk?

Chair

Choose a chair that supports your lumbar region. Also adjust the chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest. Adjust the armrests so that your shoulders aren’t raised.

Key Objects

Items that you use regular such as: your phone, stapler etc. should be close to you to minimise reaching. Stand up for any items you can’t reach to avoid stretching.

Keyboard and Mouse

Your keyboard and mouse need to be with reach and on the same surface. Keeping your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body and your hands slightly below your elbows. If possible, alter the sensitivity of your mouse so you can use a light touch. Alternatively change the hand you use your mouse with.

Desk

Under the desk make sure there is enough space for your thighs, knees and feet. Use a footrest to support your feet and do not store items under your desk.

Monitor

Place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. Your eye level should be at the top of the screen or slightly below, this stops you bending your neck excessively.

Ergonomics of a wrokstation

So what is ergonomics? Defining the workplace so that capabilities and limitations of the worker are kept in mind. Using tools such as height adjustable workbenches or desks, anti fatigue matting and many more. These tools help workers be more productive and reduce the risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders. Everything mentioned in this blog post can be applied to almost every job role even office work. At some point manual handling will affect your day and using the simple calculators above will guide you in only lifting, pushing or pulling safe weights for you. Visit Direct2U for more information, we are only a phone call or live chat away!

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