Ergonomics in the Workplace
23 June 2023
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:
- The degree of force that is needed to do the job.
- The environmental conditions – lighting and temperature.
- Adequacy of rest periods.
- The repetitiveness of the task.
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:
- Alternating tasks and work breaks to avoid repetitive strain injuries.
- Providing comfortable working temperatures and adequate ventilation.
- Providing sufficient lighting and minimising glare by glazing windows or supplying blinds.
- Minimising vibration.
- Mechanising the task.
- Regular health tests may be necessary and should be promoted by employers.
- Training will also help employees to be more aware of good practice.
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:
- Eye tests for regular users of display screen equipment.
- Sufficient desk space to provide support for the forearms and at a height where they are parallel to the surface of the desk.
- Height adjustable seating with back support and footrests available if necessary to facilitate correct posture and comfort.
- Height adjustable display screens to enable them to be positioned so the eyes are level with the top of the screen. They should have filters (if older models to minimise flicker and glare), screen controls and be placed to avoid reflections on the screen.
- Adequate work space under the desk to allow the operator to change positions.
- Regular training in recognising the adverse effects that incorrect use can have on the body and how to correct incorrect postures. eLearn Safety offers a fully online VDU/DSE course.
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.
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