Five Common Ergonomics Mistakes
Ergonomics (also known as human factors engineering) is defined as the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. OSHA, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC/NIOSH) both have dedicated pages of information regarding the role of ergonomics in the workplace. It also has a role in prevention of workplace injuries and disabilities. The American Psychological Association (APA) also published a widely distributed article regarding ergonomics and it’s role in long-term mental health and fitness.
For those not familiar with the study of ergonomics, any serious manager, foreman or supervisor needs to become at least somewhat aware of it’s tenets in order to provide a comfortable workplace. Ergonomics is a globally-recognized science with a body of validated research findings and practices. It has, for some time garnered a worldwide community of behavioral and natural science scholars. The International Ergonomics Association, a federation of national ergonomics societies, has 29 member organizations that represent 16,000 ergonomists world-wide. In the United States alone, the profession publishes in numerous peer-reviewed journals. Their quarterly journal, Human Factors, began publication in 1957. Universities are now developing curriculum and courses around the science also. To that point, there are currently more than 75 graduate and undergraduate programs in accredited universities in the U.S. and Canada.
Working Americans spend about 2,000 hours per year in the workplace. All of these hours can take a toll on your eyes, back, arms, and neck.
Exposure to adverse working conditions can result in momentary pain or long-term injury. Moreover, poorly designed working environments contribute to reduced efficiency, decreased production, loss of income, increased medical claims and permanent disability.
The ultimate goal of ergonomics is to design the workplace so that it accommodates the variety of human capabilities and limitations to prevent musculo-skeletal disorders (MSDs). While designing ergonomic hazards out of the workplace is ideal, other measures such as administrative controls (including training or employee rotation) and changes to work practices are often more feasible initially.
Planning for and implementing safety ergonomic practices in the workplace must be a long-term and integral part of workplace operations management. Safety ergonomics are affected by everything from goal setting and budgets to measurement and focus. Ergonomic measures to ensure worker safety should anticipate potential injuries, put sustainable processes in place to prevent them, integrate them into a more efficient operation, and apply tracking, measurement and continuous improvement methods to continue to focus on achieving an operating environment in which safety is an integrated and seamless component.