Ergonomics: Safety Topics - August 2018 - Week 3


Monday - Ergonomics

Ergonomics means “the rules of human strength”. Engineers interested in the design of work environments originated the word in the 1950s. Today, the purpose of ergonomics in the workplace is creating a better match between workers, work performed, and the equipment used. A good match increases workers’ productivity and reduces ergonomic injuries.

This week we'll talk about ergonomics and the risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). We'll also talk about identifying and preventing injuries, good rest period ideas, and our own experiences with ergonomics.

Tuesday – Risk Factors

Nearly every type of work or occupation has the potential for causing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). To prevent these injuries, risk factors must be understood. Ergonomic factors refer to workplace conditions that create a risk for musculoskeletal.

Factors that contribute to the development of WMSD include:

  • Force
  • Repetition
  • Posture
  • Vibration
  • Temperature
  • Duration
  • Non-work related issues

Wednesday – Musculoskeletal Disorders

Identifying and preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) requires a careful review of the risk factors. Prevention may require modification of work tasks to eliminate one or more of these risk factors.

  • The first step is identifying which jobs may be causing problems. This can be done by looking around your workplace, talking to colleagues, and learning the early warning signs. Signs to look for include fatigue, equipment modification, poor product quality, or problem reporting. Once the jobs have been identified, make a list of these jobs.
  • The second step is looking at the specific tasks that make up the jobs previously identified. When looking at each task, determine how frequently it occurs and how difficult it is to perform.
  • The third step is to observe the work tasks. Special attention should be paid to how many of the risk factors are associated with the job task. The higher the number of risk factors associated with a job, the greater the chance that a WMSD might develop. Speaking to colleagues who perform the work can often provide valuable information about how the work task may be improved.

Thursday – Rest and Breaks

Ergonomic injury risk factors include forceful movements, repetitive motions, awkward postures, and lack of rest.  Rest periods give the body time to recover from work. Workers should think of themselves as Industrial Athletes. Athletes wouldn’t participate in a sport without proper rest and warm-up, would they? Neither should you!

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 keep you hydrated.  Aerobic exercise and weight training increase strength and vitality.  Stretching, yoga, and pilates improve flexibility and build core body strength.

Pay attention to signs of discomfort and fatigue on the job. These are warning signs from your body.  As muscles tire during a work task, slouching can lead to poor posture, or sloppy, uncontrolled movements, and injuries. Rest breaks mean recovery for the body.  During a job task, take 10-15 second breaks every 10 minutes and 3-5 minute breaks every 30 to 60 minutes.  These short breaks give the body a rest, reduce discomfort, and improve your performance.

Friday – Free Speech Friday

Have you ever suffered any discomfort or injury from repetitive motion or fatigue? How did you receive the discomfort or injury? What were your symptoms and how long did they last? Has there been a lasting impact on how you function since sustaining those injuries?

Tags: safety culture , safety topics , injury prevention , osha compliance ,

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