For most business owners, the word ‘ergonomics’ is a familiar occurrence.
It refers to the science of designing productive workspaces, so it is integral to success. Fortunately, the principles behind it are very simple. The more comfortable and safe your employees are, the faster and more efficiently they will operate.
You’ve also got a responsibility, as a company owner, to provide an environment which is nurturing and supportive. If people are freely investing their time in your creation, you owe them a high-quality workspace. Whether this means providing an adjustable monitor arm, implementing stretch breaks, or training employees in the use of proper posture, it all matters.
This guide to the most effective applications of ergonomics in the workplace will help you get to grips with the basics.
This refers to practices, which seek to eliminate or minimise exposure to awkward postures. It includes things like lumbar supportive chairs, monitor arms, height adjustable desks, and ergonomic computer accessories. The aim is to help employees spend their time in a way which is physically viable.
For instance, when working at a computer, individuals should always place their feet flat on the floor. The top of the computer monitor needs to be level with their gaze and the spine should only be slightly curved. When sitting in a healthy way, the back isn’t strained and the neck doesn’t have to crane to see the screen.
Work Practice Controls
The risk of musculoskeletal disorders can be substantially reduced with the application of safe and effective work procedures. In other words, business owners and managers are required to inform employees of the safest, healthiest ways to complete risky tasks. In an office, this means things like repetitive movements, which can easily lead to strain injuries.
While the debate about where owner responsibility ends and employee responsibility begins is still ongoing, you have an obligation to make workers aware of best practices. That way, they have the choice to implement or disregard them. Administrative workers should be taught the benefits of proper posture and the importance of taking regular breaks.
Job Rotation Controls
In environments where repetitive strain injury is a serious risk (for instance, data inputting jobs), it may be necessary to introduce rotation controls. This sees employees rotate between workstations so that they’re not always performing the same physical movements. It can go a long way towards preventing MSD and other strain disorders.
Stretch breaks are a big part of this.
It is imperative that sedentary employees be given regular breaks so that they can maintain healthy circulation. If you do have a lot of workers who spend their day sitting down, encourage them to get up and walk around during break times. Even a relatively small amount of standing time can have a big impact on blood pressure.
Proper Body Mechanics
Ergonomics can also include practices like proper body control, which means lifting and carrying in the correct manner. It is particularly important for manual jobs in environments like warehouses and stock centres. As employees may not be aware of the right methods, business owners should take the time to provide demonstrations.
When lifting a heavy object, the hips and knees must be bent until the body is in a squat position. The load needs to be kept close to the body, while the legs are straightened to raise it to a standing posture. Where possible, avoid twisting the torso while holding a heavy item. Also, substantial loads should never be raised above shoulder height.