Workers in different industries are at a high ergonomic risk due to the nature of their jobs. Occupations that involve lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads and performing the same tasks repetitively make them prone to develop Musculo-skeletal diseases (MSD).
MSDs affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons thus causing the following abnormalities in particular –
- Lower Back Injuries
- Tennis Elbow
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Major Ergonomic Risk Factors
- Forceful exertions such as heavy material lifting
- Repetitive/ Sustained Awkward Postures such as working in a bent condition for long
- High Task Repetition such as over-reaching, constant twisting & turning
Identifying Ergonomic Risk Factors & Finding Solutions
Control Measures to mitigate Ergonomic Risks
Redesign of workstations to eliminate forceful exertions, awkward posture and repetitive motion is the most effective method.
II. Engineering Controls
Mechanical lifting & material handling aids, adjustable height lift tables, powered equipment and ergonomic tools can easily and effectively eliminate most of the ergonomic risks.
III. Admin Control
Work Process Improvements such as sliding objects instead of lifting, storing working material on the same level as the machine instead of ground to avoid bending.
Job Rotation between workstations and tasks to avoid prolonged periods of performing a single task
Counteractive Stretch Breaks to rest or stretch for increased circulation required for recovery.
Workforce must be trained on Principles of Ergonomics, proper work techniques, risks of not following the same and noticing and reporting early signs of MSD.
Five Principles of Ergonomics
- Maintain Correct Posture
- Use Proper Tools
- Minimize Repetitive Movements
- Use Safe Lifting Techniques
- Take Regular Breaks
Good ergonomics helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.
Benefits of Ergonomic Improvement
- Reduction in work-related injuries
- Reduction in absenteeism
- Increase in Productivity and Quality
- Increase in employee morale
A simple modification to the tool can make a huge difference.
Workplace injuries can be vastly reduced by improving work processes, implementing ergonomic solutions and by providing personal protective equipment where necessary. Apart from these, attention should also be paid to adequate light and lowering of noise and vibration in order to ensure the safety of the workers at the workplace.