Pain and discomfort are clear signals when a worker has stayed in an uncomfortable or awkward position too long. If an uncomfortable or awkward position is required to do the job, workers are at risk of developing various musculoskeletal disorders (MSIs).
Ergonomics is about designing systems or processes for people, wherever they interact with products. It is all about ‘not forcing the worker to fit the job’ but ‘designing the job to fit the worker.'
The emphasis of ergonomics is to ensure designs that complement the strengths and abilities of people and minimize the effects of their limitations, rather than forcing them to adapt.
All employees at all levels within your organization are at risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries (MSI). While manufacturing does have high MSI injury statistics, this type of injury is not unique to our industry alone. Ergonomic interventions try to design the job such that these uncomfortable positions are taken away, mitigating the risk.
As an employer, you must identify factors in the workplace that may expose workers to a risk of musculoskeletal injury (MSI).
Your workplace assessment should consider the following to identify and assess the risk of MSIs due to ergonomic factors:
- Physical demands of workplace activities
- Aspects of the layout and condition of the workplace or workstation
- Characteristics related to object/tool handling
- Environmental conditions (including cold temperatures)
- Work recovery cycles
- Task variability
- Pace of work
Eliminate the risk of MSIs for workers as much as possible, or minimize the risk with:
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Education and training
- Evaluation of the impact interventions
- Consultation with workers