Er·go·nom·ics/,ərgəˈnämiks/ noun-The study of people's efficiency in their working environment.
Ergonomics examines the interaction between the worker and the work environment, including the machinery, the workstation, climate and other factors. If the match between the work environment and the worker is poor, the worker’s ability to perform the job will be compromised resulting in poor quality, reduced productivity, increased risk of injury, and increased absenteeism.
Ergonomics involves using knowledge from many different sciences in order to help us better understand the effects of work and job design on the body. Ergonomics also helps us identify features of a job which may potentially have a harmful effect on the worker. These harmful effects are called job stresses.
Ergonomics also gives us ways to design or redesign jobs in order to reduce physical discomfort, fatigue, and the chance of eventual injury.
What can happen when your job doesn't fit you?
A job which doesn't fit you may cause physical discomfort, persistent fatigue, eye strain, or aches and pains. If you are tired or in pain, you are also more likely to become distracted, and you may get hurt.
Doing a job which doesn't fit you can lead to long term effects which may, in turn, lead to a serious injury or illness. These long term effects are often grouped together under the term cumulative trauma disorders, or CTDs.
A CTD is a wear-and-tear injury which can develop when a stressful action is performed again and again.
CTDs can affect the nerve, tendons, joints, circulatory system (blood vessels), or other parts of the body.
Risk factors for CTDs
There are three major sources of physical stress, also called risk factors:
Frequency - how often you perform an action.
Force - how much effort you use to perform an action.
Posture - the position of your body or parts of your body such as your arm, wrist, shoulder, or back when you perform an action.
The risk of a developing CTD usually comes from a combination of stresses.
You need ergonomics, and ergonomics needs you.
Let’s be honest here…we all find ourselves in situations where our focus is on getting the job done in a timely fashion and meeting production goals-however, if we don’t focus on getting the job done safely and properly, the outcome will result in a negative one.
It is the role of the Safety/Ergonomic Teams here at STP to provide the resources to ensure your safety and well-being, but it is YOUR responsibility to implement them.
You have a key role in ergonomics...please take your job and yourself seriously!
For more information on this topic, you are encouraged to review The Ergonomics Action Guide at the link below.