Health and Safety – Ergonomics
Some common myths about ergonomics that only office workers are affected, or ergonomics is used after an employee is already injured. However, ergonomics means that the employer has provided a safe working environment and employee is performing efficiently. It is not only the employer that needs to ensure the workstation does not cause strain on employee, but the employee has also taken measures to ensure the workstation is optimized to themselves.
Regardless of the job, poor ergonomics can affect your health and body negatively. Some examples are vibration can cause nerve damage (noticed in users of construction equipment), or that loud noises over 80 decibels in the long run can cause hearing loss etc. In addition, most common injury most employees suffer from is musculoskeletal disorders, which results from repeated activity. This is one of the most common form of injury which resulted in 43% of lost time in 2008 according to WSIB. MSDs can affect your lower back, shoulder, wrists, nerves, tendons and more.
In order to have an active and safe environment, use proper ergonomic equipment such as chairs, guards against vibrations, controls placed within reach and more. Reducing repetitive actions such as typing or operating a machine can help in reducing the impact of MSD hazards. Taking proper breaks and resting your hands, back and eyes and reduce strain caused by typing. Or if you are on the site, wearing protective gear and allowing your body to stretch in between large periods of operation can reduce the strain on vibrations or repetitive tasks. Regular exercise during your breaks or lunch periods can give time for your nerves and muscles to destress. In addition, following the proper lifting postures or sitting postures will help you to keep your body in the best physical condition.
As an employer, there should be policies in place to assess the workstations of individuals to ensure it is ergonomically friendly. Wellness programs can show your due diligence, as these programs will allow employees to give their body rests in periods. Employees should also bring up their concerns to their management in order to get their station assessed before any injuries can occur. A proactive approach will not only benefit the employee but also the employer in reducing the lost time caused by injuries. Health and safety are joint responsibility, employees need to reduce their individual hazards by maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.