Implementing ergonomic software in the workplace can improve productivity and create safer environments. Learn how to integrate it in five steps and...
Active and at Work: The Facts about Workplace Ergonomics
Learn the importance of workplace ergonomics. Find out how ergonomic practices can improve productivity, prevent MSDs, and create a healthier workplace.
When a manager brings up ergonomics in the workplace the first reaction from many employees is exasperation. Another buzzword that will just get in the way of doing their work. But this wellness month you should ask your employees if what they really know about ergonomics.
What most employees don’t realize is that ergonomics not only makes your work more productive but can lead you to a healthier lifestyle too. More productivity, more results, better health, and more ability to do what you want to do.
Ergonomics has been an active and growing field since it was founded in the 1950s. With roots in the Space Race and the dawn of the Information Age, proper ergonomics has been an essential part of the workplace for a long time.
So, with over seventy years of research, proven results, and new innovations coming constantly, you might be wondering where to get started. Read on to find out about the importance of ergonomics and how you can take advantage of it in the modern workspace.
Understanding Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
One question to consider when approaching ergonomics in the workplace is what areas of concern am I trying to address. One area ergonomic practices have been shown to significantly impact is reducing the risk and negative impacts of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). The CDC identifies examples of MSDs as sprains, strains, tears, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and hernias. MSDs cause discomfort, raise absenteeism, and can cause even more serious injuries to occur if left untreated. “An ergonomically acceptable workplace with considerate rest periods will help enhance productivity” as found in this Cureus study.
These types of discomforts don’t just come from manual labor either. Forceful exertions, such as lifting and carrying, heavy vibrations from the use of power tools, or unregulated temperatures from the environment, can all be partial causes of an MSD. But repetitive motions, sitting with awkward positions, or eye strain can all lead to or directly cause musculoskeletal disorders, as well. Every workplace has the potential to cause discomforts that can result in further injuries. The annual prevalence of Work-Related MSDs among healthcare workers was found to be 77.2% based on a meta-study conducted in 2022. Ergonomics can identify and eliminate these problems.
Learn more about the risks of unregulated temperatures and the benefits of creating a safe work environment in this short podcast from NPR.
The Role of Ergonomics in Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders
Using ergonomic practices can have a massive impact on the rate and severity of musculoskeletal disorders. Ergonomics actively addresses the causes of MSDs and creates solutions that can mitigate or altogether eliminate their impact. Implementing ergonomic solutions into the workplace for extended periods of time allows employees and employers to improve health and productivity across the board. Still, even small changes can have positive impacts.
The proven benefits of ergonomics in the workplace have been shown many times over the years. In this case study by Briotix Health, a company saved over a million dollars after the implementation of ergonomic self-assessment tools. Consider this study by Caroline et al. published in the National Library of Medicine showcasing the importance of a multifaceted approach to ergonomics to reduce workplace MSDs. The field of ergonomics continues to expand in its knowledge base and beneficial impacts.
Identifying Common Risk Factors
To fully realize the impact of an ergonomic program, a company must be capable of identifying and eliminating risk factors. OSHA classifies an ergonomic risk factor as “workplace situations that cause wear and tear on the body and can cause injury.” Across industries, the root causes of risks shift dramatically between offices, onsite locations, and various areas of work.
Ergonomic Risk Factors in Physical Labor Jobs
1. Improper lifting and carrying techniques
2. Repetitive motions contributing to excessive twisting
3. Sustained standing or sitting positions for long periods of time
Office Ergonomic Risk Factors
1. Desk layout and chair height not designed around their user can lead to increased risk
2. Computer and monitor placement at improper distances or heights to eye level
3. Harsh lighting and glare resulting in dizziness or headaches
4. Keyboard and Mouse Placement leading to increased strains from reaching outside arm’s length
A professional ergonomist is capable of assessing and identifying any potential risk factors in the workplace. From modifying computer workstations to purchasing ergonomic chairs and all the unknowns in between, if you’re considering creating solutions to your workplace health and safety risk factors contact an expert today.
As the popularity of remote and hybrid work increases the importance of incorporating ergonomics into your home office grows. If your workplace already has ergonomic practices in place translating those to the home office can be difficult. Simple ergonomic steps can be taken by anyone! Lumbar support isn’t just a fancy term it has real and physical effects. From stretch breaks to armrests and footrests, statistically significant results have shown that ergonomic steps can reduce pain.
Ergonomic Software and the Modern Ergonomist
As solutions to ergonomic problems change and update over time the implementation of technology solutions has allowed for faster, more responsive action on the part of providers. Employers who are implementing virtual solutions are able to address discomforts promptly, reduce cost in equipment, and assure program efficiency no matter the location as can be seen in this case study on the subject by Briotix Health.
Ergonomic software and program have been supported by NIOSH since the 1990’s and their effectiveness has only increased over that time. Job tasks can be improved or modified to ensure good ergonomics. Reducing the risk of injury with practical occupational safety tips makes workplace injuries less prevalent. But the most effective method of feedback to make these changes and identify detriments to workplace safety is through employee feedback and observation. Ergonomic software allows real-time employee feedback and creates a direct line of connection between provider and patient.
The effectiveness of ergonomic software is not limited to the office environment. Industrial settings are capable of using ergonomic software to analyze data from technology solutions and improve job task performance. The variety of choices that can be found in ergonomic software solutions allows you to identify a software suite that is right for you and your company's needs.
If you are dedicated to employee well-being during the workday and after it ends you should be looking into ergonomic improvements you can make to your workplace. Reach out to an expert and make an appointment to discover how your workplace can benefit.