Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with the characteristics of people that need to be considered in designing and arranging things that people use in order that people and things will interact most effectively and safely.
Not Just a Workplace Problem We encounter ergonomics wherever we go, not just on the job. Manufacturers have conducted a great deal of research in order to make car seats as comfortable as possible; to make airplanes safer; to fashion tools for the population that will use them and a host of other things. Currently there is no Federal OSHA ergonomics standard. Ergonomic problems observed in the workplace are citable by OSHA using the general duty clause at section 5, paragraph (a)(1) of the OSHAct.
Ergonomics encompass many different sciences such as:
Common Conditions Related to Poor Ergonomics Improper ergonomics can result in a number of conditions such as back injury, strains, headaches and various cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). Some of the more common CTDs include:
- Raynaud’s disease
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
Other Ergonomic Concerns Back Injuries: Nearly 80% of Americans will experience back pain. The back, like the rest of the body, grows weak if it does not receive exercise. When the back gets weak it puts the worker at greater risk when there is a need to lift, push, pull or simply bend over.
To protect the back, workers should exercise but they should also be taught the proper way to lift materials. Although not widely used, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published an equation which can be used to calculate a safe lift.
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Convincing employees and management to embrace corporate cultural change is certainly nothing new. One needs to look no farther than the successful business models which promote occupational safety, aimed at lowering workplace accidents! A successful occupational safety program requires a cultural change and encourages participation among the entire workforce. Just like safety, promoting a sustainable culture at work is simply good business and yields a significant, long-term ROI.