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11 -January- 2022

Identifying And Addressing Ergonomic Hazards At Work

Why is Ergonomics Important in Workplace Safety?

Ergonomic disorders are the fastest-growing category of work-related illness. Many of these are caused by ergonomic work-related injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome alone, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, muscle strains, and low back injuries due to risk factors like high task repetition, forceful exertions, and repetitive awkward postures. 

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of fitting jobs to workers instead of trying to get the worker to fit the job. It focuses on designing workstations, tools & work tasks for safety, efficiency and comfort. By following an ergonomically designed workplace we can reduce fatigue and injuries there by increasing productivity, job satisfaction and safety.

Ergonomic risk factors

Workplace situations that cause wear and tear on the body causing injury. These include repetition, awkward posture, forceful motion, stationary position, direct pressure, vibration, extreme temperature, noise, and work stress. Multiple factors increases the risk of developing MSD (muscular skeleton disorder)

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs?

MSDs are defined as cumulative and chronic injuries to muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves and discs that are caused or aggravated by our actions and/or environment that does not follow safe and healthy work practices.

  • Prains, strains, and tears
  • Back pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Hernia

MSDs include sprains, strains, and tears, Backpain, carpal tunnel syndrome and Hernia. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a well-known MSD which occurs when the nerve, which runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist.

Early detection of MSDs

Symptoms of MSDs are 

Pain • Weakness • Stiffness • Sensitivity • Swelling • Burning sensation • Tingling • Drowsiness • Difficulty moving • Clumsiness

Ways to Reduce Ergonomic Risks

Engineering Improvements: Careful evaluation of the workplace and engineering improvements including rearranging, modifying, redesigning, or replacing tools, equipment, workstations, packaging, parts, or products to  reduce or eliminate contributing factors. 

Administrative Improvements. Administrative improvements include changing work practices or the way work is organized. 

Eg: Job rotation, Providing recovery time (i.e., muscle relaxation time) , Modifying work practices , Ensuring regular housekeeping, maintenance of work spaces, tools, and equipment and Encouraging exercise.

Personal Protective Equipment: Suitable and appropriate personal protective equipment for the job which includes gloves, knee and elbow pads, footwear etc.

What are the advantages of ergonomics? 

  1. Increased savings 
  • Fewer injuries 
  • More productive and sustainable employees
  • Fewer workers’ compensation claims 
  1. Increased productivity 

Ergonomic improvements can reduce the primary risk factors for MSDs, so workers are more efficient, productive and have greater job satisfaction.

  1. Increased morale 

    Attention to ergonomics can make employees feel valued 

  1. Reduced absenteeism 

    Ergonomics leads to healthy and pain-free workers thereby reducing absenteeism

Solutions to Control Hazards

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of US dept. of labour has listed out  Industry or Task-Specific Solutions for MSDs .Follow the link 

https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics/control-hazards for more information

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