Exploring the Positive Effects of Efficient Workplace Ergonomics
A day at work can often be demanding, but a job should not expose workers to the risk of prolonged pain or exhaustion due to poor workplace ergonomics. Studies have shown that many workers who engage in physical activities frequently experience debilitating pain and extreme fatigue. Furthermore, these symptoms tend to be cumulative and, unless the damaging practices are discontinued or replaced with safer options, can eventually result in a more permanent injury. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common consequence of failing to address such issues, and these can leave workers more prone to accidental injuries. From an economic viewpoint, these painful conditions are the source of thousands of lost working hours and paid sick leave every year.
Typical Focus Areas of Workplace Ergonomics
1) Task Design
There are several areas that employers need to address if they wish to minimise the risk of workers developing MSDs. Of these, the design of the tasks they expect their workers to perform and the personnel designated to perform those tasks frequently lead to health problems. Jobs that involve lifting heavy objects, overhead stretching, pushing or pulling heavy loads, performing the same action repeatedly or adopting an awkward posture carry a severe risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
A high incidence of absenteeism among a given group of workers is often a sign of poor workplace ergonomics and an indication that some help from an occupational hygienist might be in order. Following discussions with the affected workers and observing them in action, the specialist will recommend adjustments to how any excessively demanding tasks are performed. With some appropriate staff re-training, it should then be possible to eliminate most of these work-related problems.
2) Workstation Layout
Factors such as the location of frequently used tools, under-bench legroom, lighting, and the height of work surfaces and seating can all influence worker performance. When these are optimal, employees generally tend to display increased job satisfaction. They are also healthier and, as a result, markedly more productive. However, struggling to reach tools or working at a bench that is too high can soon lead to postural problems, pain and absenteeism.
One of the common consequences of poorly adjusted benches or seating is that workers may experience excessive pressure on their wrists or forearms. Working for long periods with vibrating tools exerts a similar effect. In turn, these activities can cause compression of the median nerve, which, over time, can give rise to the tingling, pain and numbness in hands and fingers characteristic of carpal tunnel syndrome. In extreme cases, this condition could require surgery.
3) Management Pressures
Most jobs entail meeting productivity targets, but when they involve physical activity, it is vital to ensure these are realistic and achievable and do not risk workers’ health and safety. Regular breaks are essential during necessary periods of high activity, and appointing extra staff may be preferable to relying on exhausted employees to work additional shifts. In addition to fatigue, overwork can also severely affect mental health and well-being.
Resolving Workplace Ergonomics Issues
Healthy working habits are essential for peak productivity, and ensuring efficient workplace ergonomics is a sound investment that can help you achieve them. Why not learn how other companies have benefitted from IOH Solutions’ accredited occupational hygiene services? Alternatively, you might like to book a professional evaluation of your current work environment and procedures.Contact Us For Workplace Ergonomics solutions