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Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics is the study of working interactions between humans and machines/workstations and the factors that affect those interactions. Stemming from the Greek words ‘ergo’ & ‘nomus’ (workflow) it is in simple terms ‘fitting’ the job to the person as opposed to fitting the person to the job.

 

Origins of the Ergonomics

Ergonomic practitioners draw upon a number of different disciplines. Some of these are ‘biomechanics’ (the study of human movement and the associated laws) and ‘anthropometry’ (the study of human measurements). These disciplines assist ergonomic practitioners in identifying ergonomic risk factors.

 

Importance of Ergonomics in the Workplace

Failure to apply the principles of ergonomics within the workplace i.e., a busy office environment or warehouse can result in chronic or acute musculoskeletal injuries. If left unchecked can result in functional limitations. Employees working in such environments are also susceptible to RSI ‘repetitive strain injuries’ and WRULD ‘work related upper limb disorders’.

When designing workstations ergonomic considerations are of significant importance. An ergonomic risk assessment can help to identify issues with existing workstations. However prior to conducting a risk assessment a task analysis should be conducted. A task analysis is conducted in order to get an appreciation of an employee’s daily routine. A task analysis will highlight current or potential issues for the employee, time spent at the work station, breaks, and shift work. All these should all be taken into consideration. In addition, biomechanics and anthropometrics will also play a part at this point.

 

Ergonomic Tools

Ergonomic practitioners can utilize a number of tools in order to assist them in rating the risks accordingly:

In addition, eLearn  Safety offers a full online VDU/DSE course. This course is fully online and can be taken 24/7. On completion of this VDU training course, participants will be provided with the information necessary to ensure current legislation is complied, risk assessments are carried out and all employees are competent to adjust their work stations to provide a safe place to work in.

Furthermore, a task analysis will help to identify if an employer is compliant with current legislation under the SHWW Act 2005. An office employees’ display screen is in essence a visual display unit. Therefore an employer must adhere to the guidance document within the general application regulations pertaining to VDU’s and display screen equipment.

 

Ergonomics in the Workplace Recommendations

Where office workers should be afforded the option to conduct his/her work both in the seated and standing position, employers must ensure chairs and VDU’s have the ability to be adjusted to suit all employees and consider frequent breaks and job rotation where practicable. Employers should also promote good working practices. For example, encouraging staff to make recommendations based on their working environments. If working in a warehouse or on a manufacturing line, workers should use appropriate equipment. A proper equipment will aid them in their jobs. Some of the examples are foot stools, foot rests, anti-glare eye protection, etc.

Employers should always be cognizant of the fact that ‘one shoe does not fit all’ when it comes to ergonomic assessments. For example a tall employee may feel cramped in a small area whereas a short employee may be uncomfortable if constantly reaching for items or if their feet are not supported when sitting.

Thus, structuring the working environment in order to suit the user is a step away from Taylors’ method of ‘scientific management’. Such a method, regardless of body shape and size or indeed the work being undertaken, was standardized across the board and the worker had to adapt him/herself to the factory conditions or face the prospect of dismissal and future injuries as a result.

 

Ergonomics Assessments

Ergonomic assessments are not difficult to undertake, and when carried out effectively can help to reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries and pain. In turn, this will help to motivate employees, allowing them to be more productive and happier in the working environment. Employers should always be aware of their responsibilities to their employees under the SHAWW Act and take the necessary steps to create risk free working environments where possible. Employees must also be aware of their rights and support any safety initiatives the employer wishes to implement, as the saying goes, ‘the rising tide floats every boat’.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

Working in Confined Spaces

Working in confined spaces is a high risk working environment.

 

What does it mean Working in Confined Space

Any significantly enclosed space where there is a risk of death or serious injury from hazardous substances, lack of oxygen or other dangerous conditions is classed as a confined space. Confined spaces with small openings such as silos, drains, sewers and storage tanks are fairly obvious. Others are not. Ductwork, vats, open-topped chambers may be less obvious.

 

Before Working in Confined Space Commence

Before working in confined space commences, certain steps should be taken. All hazards present must be identified and the risks assessed. This information should then be used to determine what precautions are needed and safety procedures developed (including emergency rescue).

 

Confined Space Entry

If working in confined spaces can be avoided – it should be avoided.

According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Confined Spaces) Regulations 2001, Regulation 5 states that:

A person shall not carry out work in Confined Spaces if it is reasonably practicable that it could be avoided.

If the work must be carried out Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment must be carried out prior to the work commencing.

A person shall not enter a confined space unless there is a system of work in place that has been planned, organised, performed and maintained so as to render that work safe and without risk to health.

Anyone entering a confined space must be provided with appropriate information, training and instruction appropriate to the particular characteristics of the proposed work activities.

 

Questions to Ask

Before working in confined space commence, the following should be considered:

If someone is working in a confined space, think about the following:

Always:

Never:

 

Useful Resources

The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) has a very useful info page titled Working in Confined Spaces. This page covers some of the most frequently asked questions about working in confined spaces.

In addition, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive info page titled Introduction to working in confined spaces can provide additional very useful information about working in confined spaces.

 

Tragic Example

As The Irish Times reported; on June 10th, 2015 brothers Alan (45) and Stephen Harris (32) were overcome by fumes while working in an underground sewer at Drumnigh Woods, Portmarnock, Co Dublin. They were taken from the sewer and taken to hospital but unfortunately died of hypoxia due to toxic levels of hydrogen sulphide.

The brothers were wearing wader boots and rain jackets and Stephen Harris was wearing a dust mask.

A toxic gas incident that claimed the lives of two brothers almost killed a fireman attempting to rescue them.

How It Could Have Been Avoided

Health and Safety Authority inspector Frank Kerins said the job required specialist equipment in accordance with confined space regulations, including a gas detector and breathing apparatus.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

Health and Safety in the Workplace

Effective Health and Safety management in the workplace is an important element of every organisation. Every year, accidents at work cost the Irish industry billions of euros. The effects of the injuries sustained vary from minor to major injuries. In some cases, employees will be needing an extended period of time off work. In other cases they will never be able to work again. Unfortunately, in some cases they will receive injuries that would be fatal. The fact is, many of these accidents are avoidable and should have not happened.

Much of Health and Safety relies on ensuring that the appropriate risk precautions are in place. Additional information about workplace hazards are available in our blog entry from 21 April 2023 Workplace Accidents and Their Prevention. If individuals are aware of potential hazards and adopt safe working practices, they can control the risks and reduce the number of accidents and injuries.

 

Workplace Fatalities from 2017 to 2022

The work-related injuries include any injuries incurred by workers in the course of their work. These injuries can range from minor injuries to the most serious injuries that resulted in death. According to the Health and Safety Authority of Ireland and the Health and Safety Statistics they publish, the following is workplace fatalities statistics for years 2017 – 2022:

There have been 230 fatalities in Ireland since 2017.

Health and Safety in the workplace is an important aspect of any organisation. All work related fatalities are preventable through vigilance and effective Health and Safety management. All employees and persons affected by business activities deserve to go home after their work day has ended.

 

Common Causes of Accidents in the Workplace

Whilst not all workplace accidents result in death, the majority of them will result in an injury. Common causes of accident in the workplace are often:

Work related activities can also be responsible for diseases and ill health. These, in some cases, can have long term, irreversible effects. For example:

These hazards can be controlled by assessing risks and putting in effective controls. Effective health and Safety practices will not only minimise the pain and personal consequences to individual employees, but also reduce the financial impact on employers and services funded by the taxpayer.

 

Business and Human Costs of Ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace

The costs on the business for ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace can be significant:

These, however, can fade into insignificance when weighed against the human cost:

Safe working conditions are a prerequisite for a healthy and productive workforce.

 

Ineffective Health and Safety in the Workplace – From the Press

The Health and Safety Authority reported on 26th June 2023 that the company was fined €750,000 after fatal fall from height in workplace. The fatal incident occurred when a worker stepped onto a fragile surface. The fragile surface that sealed a vertical service duct which gave way and the worker fell from a height.

Mark Cullen, Assistant Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, commented, “Where there is a known risk in a workplace, in this case working from height, employers in control of that workplace have a duty to ensure that the appropriate precautions are in place. This will protect employees and others who may be carrying out work activity at the place of work under their control. Failure by the employer in this case has led to the tragic death of a worker. We urge employers to carry out risk assessments and engage with their employees and others to ensure that incidents like this one are prevented.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie

 

Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics in the workplace is one of the most overlooked workplace related hazards. Ergonomics is the science of fitting the task to the person by designing equipment and apparatus that fits well with the human body and the way that it moves. People come in all shapes and sizes. This is why all workstations should be designed with adjustable features. For example, adjustable seats and work platforms. This will enable the worker to work comfortably. Uncomfortable workstation can result in people stooping, stretching, overreaching, twisting, etc. This can cause muscle fatigue and strain. In addition, it can possibly cause longer term damage or deformation.

 

Risk Assessing the Ergonomics in the Workplace

Some of the factors that should be considered when risk assessing the ergonomics of work activities are:

Any machine expected to carry out repetitive motions must be regularly maintained and parts replaced as they wear out. Failure to maintain machinery may result in breakdown. People may also be expected to carry out similar repetitive tasks and suffer wear and tear as a result. This can cause them to suffer permanent damage and being unable to work. Any activity involving high repetitions should be looked at carefully and redesigned to avoid this as far as possible.

 

Enabling Ergonomics in the Workplace

Some of the effective measures to enable good ergonomic practices in the workplace are:

Occupations commonly associated with musculoskeletal problems are computer users, checkout operators, dentists and workers on production lines. One of the preventive measures that should be taken to prevent injuries at work is Manual Handling training. The eLearn Safety provides blended learning Manual Handling course has been designed by our qualified tutors to assist the employer to comply with current legislation.

 

Ergonomics in the Workplace and Display Screen Equipment

Display screens cause many instances of eye and wrist strain, back problems and headaches. Some additional insights into problems caused by use of display screens can be found in our blog entry Prolonged Static Sitting at Work from 26 May 2023.

Many of the problems associated with the use of display screens can be mitigated by implementing effective measures to enable good ergonomic practices as listed in the previous paragraph.

Some additional measures should be provided/enabled:

Staff experiencing discomfort and pain whilst using display screen equipment should report these issues to their employer as soon as they become aware of them. To help understand the use of VDU/DSE, the Health and Safety Authority has published useful Display Screen Equipment – (DSE/VDU) – Frequently Asked Questions.

 

Online Health and Safety Training

Proactive Health and Safety training is critical to ensure a safe workplace. An effective training program can reduce the number of worker injuries and deaths. It can also reduce instances of property damage, legal liability, illnesses, and missed time from work.

Health and Safety training helps establish a culture in which employees themselves help promote proper safety procedures while on the job. It is important that new employees be properly trained and embrace the importance of workplace safety. The role of training in developing and maintaining effective hazard control activities is a proven and successful method of intervention.

This is why we have established Myelearsafety school. We pride ourselves in how we guide, support and mentor our students. They receive support throughout their learning experience and into their working lives. Our staff have extensive training experience and also have many years industry experience. We understand the challenges that exist within Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety. Our priority is to ensure that all learners are fully prepared to differentiate themselves in the workplace after completing our Health and Safety courses.

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Health and Safety courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email info@elearn.ie