Either in an office setting, a construction site, or anywhere on the job, you’ve probably heard the term “ergonomics” before. Ergonomics studies how a person interacts with their working environment. The goal of an ergonomics program is to prevent injuries. This is accomplished by fitting the job to the worker instead of fitting the worker to the job. In today’s blog, we’ll look at ergonomic concerns in the workplace, and what you can do to prevent injuries caused by poor ergonomics. Many of the suggestions in this topic can be adapted for use outside the workplace and helping you to prevent injuries at home as well.
Maintaining overall health reduces your risk of injury. Get a good night’s sleep to rest your body and maintain alertness. Eat healthy foods and drink fluids to boost energy and stay hydrated. Aerobic exercise and weight training increase strength and vitality. Stretching, yoga, and pilates improve flexibility and build core body strength.
Injuries arising from poor ergonomic conditions typically involve the bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and nerves. Symptoms of these injuries are:
· painful joints
· pain, tingling or numbness in hands or feet
· pain in wrists, shoulders, forearms, knees, etc.
· back or neck pain
· fingers or toes turning white
· shooting or stabbing pains in arms or legs
· swelling, inflammation, or stiffness
· weakness in hands
These symptoms could also be the result of other medical conditions, so check with your doctor if you are concerned about any of these. Ergonomic problems can usually be solved by simple, common sense solutions. Injuries that are caused by awkward posture can be prevented by improving your posture while you work. Any time you must twist your body, work overhead, kneel, bend over, or squat, you increase your risk of an injury. Repetition of these movements further increases your chance of injury. Try to alternate your work activities and postures throughout the day. Rotating tasks may seem inefficient, but the rest and use of different muscle groups increases energy and maintains productivity.
Occasional awkward posture is probably no cause for alarm, but if you find yourself repeatedly bending, stretching, and twisting, making some simple adjustments to the work environment can solve the problem of awkward posture. Your workstation may need some adjustment, or the materials you use in performing your job may need to be re-arranged to eliminate bending, twisting, and other awkward movements. Store frequently used materials in front of you at waist height. Heavier objects should not be placed overhead ,but they don’t have to be on the floor either. Try to place them at a level where they are easier to lift.
Repetitive motion tasks can also lead to injuries. If your job requires you to make the same motions repeatedly, consider learning the correct posture for the job. Check with your PEO’s safety department for ideas on reducing injury from repetitive motion tasks. You may find that there is equipment available to use which will reduce your chance of injury. However, don’t depend only on a back or wrist brace to protect you. Your best prevention is to maintain the correct position for the task, take recommended breaks, and do any recommended exercises to help prevent injury.
If you have any questions concerning ergonomics at work and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463.