What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is about interactions between people and their combined physical and organizational environments within the workplace. Allowing an ergonomic design to be put into the workplace that will accommodate variety of ways humans are capable of, and/or limited, allows workplace conditions to match capabilities. These ergonomic changes can reduce the risk of strains and sprains as well as other related musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs), improve safety and allow for improvement in productivity. A more concise way to refer to ergonomics are that ergonomics allow to job to be fit for the worker, rather than trying to make a worker fit the job. Ergonomics focus is between the worker and the environment. When you adapt the job to fit the worker you can help to eliminate many potential ergonomic issues such as cumulative trauma disorders (CTD), repetitive motion injuries (RMI) and repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
By focusing on the work environment such as the design and function of controls, workstations, displays, lighting, safety devices and tools ergonomics will make changes to fit the employee’s physical requirements, limitations and capabilities ensuring their well being and preventing injury. Injury prevention through ergonomics is an investment in your people. As with most health and safety issues it is less expensive to prevent than it is to make correction and changes after an injury has taken place. Changes may include restructuring or changing a workplace conditions to reduce stressors that may cause MSDs. Equipping a workstation with the proper equipment and furniture creates a more comfortable work space and a safer work environment. When and if workstations are designed properly most ergonomic hazards can be reduced if not eliminated.
When do you need an ergonomic assessment?
Workers often will experience discomfort, numbness, pain, weakness, tingling, weakness and movement restrictions. Most of the musculoskeletal diseases (MDSs) that develop requiring ergonomic adjustment are as a result of forceful, repetitive, or awkward movement on joints, bones, , ligaments and other soft tissues. The most prevalent MSD conditions are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Eye strain / blurred vision
- General muscle strain
- Low back / neck strain
- Rotator cuff syndrome
- Tennis elbow (epicondylitis)
- Shoulder pain (shoulder myalgia)
If you are experiencing these types of symptoms seek medical attention and also advise your employer so that they may request a formal ergonomic assessment to make recommendations about task modification, equipment needs, and education related to proper body mechanics.
What are the benefits of workplace ergonomics?
Employees fee valued and as though their happiness and health matter
How can we help you?
Some examples of Occupational Therapy intervention in the workplace may include: job analysis, physical demand analysis, work-site assessments, return-to-work programs, modification of job tasks and the work environment to promote function, job accommodation, health promotion programs such as stress management and injury prevention programs.
Universal Design and new office set-up consultation
Prior to purchasing furniture or workstation equipment due to renovations of existing space or new construction consult an Occupational Therapist to have the specifications reviewed and to provide guidance and ensure the best ergonomically sound set-up. We can assist you with your workstation design, workstation set-up and work methods to maximize productivity and reduce workplace illness / injury.