The Best Ergonomic Principles for Improved Work Performance
In the field of ergonomics, workplace environment and job requirements are matched to the capabilities of the working population (interaction between the operator and the job demands).
The ideas and specifications of ergonomics guide the design of tools, machinery, labor practices, and environments. In order to maximize a machine's efficiency, a worker must be able to control it effectively and precisely. There is no evidence that badly built workplaces are the most effective mode of production; rather, workers should be able to operate machinery in the most stress-free manner.
Over time, musculoskeletal problems might develop as a result of workplace ergonomic flaws, even if the symptoms aren't obvious at first. Rather than looking for issues, ergonomics should be viewed as providing solutions and can be used in any business.
According to University of Cape Town faculty of health and family medicine- task completion occurs when the employee and the machine work together in the same workplace in a certain setting. According to its dimensions and equipment/machinery configurations, a workspace is defined in detail. Worker posture and reach distances will be affected by these parameters, which will have a direct impact on worker comfort and productivity. Temperature, illumination, sound, and vibration all play a role in describing the surrounding environment.
So, here are the ergonomic principles to assist you in identifying ergonomic risk factors and maintaining your impeccable safety record.
Retain a Balanced Body Position
Positions in which the body is perfectly aligned and balanced while sitting or standing are known as neutral postures.
To maximize control and force output, neutral postures decrease the stress imposed to muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones.
An "awkward posture" is the polar opposite of a neutral posture. Positions that deviate from the "natural" range of motion become awkward. Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) risk can be increased by increasing the stress on the worker's body, and this should be avoided at all costs.
Wrist, elbow, shoulder, and back postures that are both neutral and awkward are shown in the images below. When you put on your ergo eyes (lens of fundamental ergonomic principles) you'll be able to tell right away if workers are hunched over their desks or standing straight.
Source: Neutral and awkward wrist postures
Source: Neutral and awkward elbow postures
Source: Neutral and awkward shoulder postures
Source: Neutral and awkward back postures
Do What Is Comfortable
Keeping a neutral posture is related to this notion, but it's worth elaborating on.
Lifting is most effective in the area between mid-thigh and mid-chest height, which is near to the body.
The arms and back are able to raise the most weight with the least effort in this area.
The "comfort zone" or "handshake zone" is another name for this area.
As long as you can "shake hands" with your work, you're keeping your body in an upright position and minimizing the need to squint.
MSD risk factors can be reduced by working from the power / comfort / handshake zone, which guarantees that you are working at the right heights and reaches.
Now you'll be able to tell if someone is working outside of their normal range of motion or at an unsafe height if they have extended their reach or are working at an awkward angle.
Allow for some flexibility and movement
The human body's mobility system is the musculoskeletal system, and it is meant to move.
Working in a stationary position for a lengthy period of time will wear down your body. Static load is what we're dealing with here.
- For the next 30 minutes, keep your hands raised above your head.
- For the following eight hours, stand in the same spot.
- For the next 60 minutes, write using a pencil.
Static load will occur if you accomplish these things. A few seconds or minutes of discomfort may not seem like a big deal, but the cumulative effect of holding these seemingly stress-free positions over time will induce weariness and discomfort.
When you've completed these tasks, what is the first thing you'll likely do?
You'll get a workout.
You'll be able to loosen up your shoulders and lower back. You'll likely do some squats as well as some leg stretches. You'll be able to get your wrist and fingers as wide as possible.
Stretching aids in recovery from exertion, strengthens the muscles and joints, and enhances overall posture and coordination. In order to perform better and avoid injury, you should warm up before working out, just like you would before a game of sports. Warming up with a stretching routine is a terrific approach to get your body ready for the day's work ahead.
Stretch breaks are also a good way to get your blood pumping and recover your energy during the course of your work day.
Reduce Force That Is Too Great
One of the most common causes of ergonomic injury is using too much force. The human body is subjected to a great deal of stress in many jobs. Muscle fatigue and the likelihood of a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) rise as a result of increased muscle exertion.
When a work or task necessitates an excessive amount of force, the goal is to identify it and then discover solutions to lessen that force.
Most workers will experience less fatigue and less chance of developing MSDs if excessive force requirements are eliminated. Using mechanical aids, counter balance systems, adjustable height lift tables and workstations, powered equipment, and ergonomic gadgets will lessen the amount of effort and physical exertion required to complete a job.
Reduce the amount of movement you make
In addition to the dangers posed by repetitive motion, it is also one of the most common. There are a lot of jobs that repeat themselves on a daily, weekly, or even hourly basis, and this is often due to production goals and processes. With other risk factors like excessive force or uncomfortable postures, high task repetition might contribute to MSD development. Cycle time of fewer than 30 seconds indicates that the work is highly repetitious.
If at all possible, needless or excessive motions should be avoided. Excessive force needs and unnatural postures must be eliminated in circumstances when this is not achievable
Expansion of the work, job rotation, and counteractive stretch breaks are some options to explore.
Reducing the Intensity of Direct Physical Contact
OSHA says that contact stress is caused by repeated rubbing or contact between hard or sharp objects/surfaces and soft body tissue, such as the fingers, palms, thighs, and feet, among other places. An area of the body is subjected to localized pressure due to this contact, which might affect blood and nerve flow or the movement of tendons and muscles in the vicinity.
Contact stress can be caused by resting the wrists on a sharp edge of a desk or workstation while conducting activities, forcing tool handles into the palms, especially when they can't be set down, tasks that involve hand hammering, and sitting without appropriate knee space.
Decrease Motion Excessively
More than a few studies have demonstrated that long-term health impacts from vibration exposure are most likely to occur when a worker is regularly exposed to a vibrating tool or process as part of his or her job duties.
Hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) can induce a variety of disorders, including white finger or Raynaud's syndrome, carpel tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis, among others. Fingers are particularly vulnerable to the damaging effects of vibration syndrome, which affects blood flow and nerve function. Numbness, discomfort, and blanching are some of the warning signals (turning pale and ashen).
Make Sure There Is Enough Light
Poor lighting is a prevalent issue in the workplace, and it can have a negative impact on the productivity and well-being of employees. To make matters worse, if you don't have sight, it's impossible to accomplish your job!
Workers are more likely to suffer from eye tiredness and headaches if their workplaces are not sufficiently illuminated.
An easy answer to lighting issues is to give employees access to dimmer-adjustable task lighting. Computer workstations should be set up such that monitors aren't situated in front of windows or bright backgrounds, so that they don't glare.
An office redesign doesn't have to resemble a brain operation in terms of difficulty or complexity. Most of the ergonomic principles discussed in this article are self-evident; however, putting them into action on a daily basis can be a difficult task for many businesses.As an ergonomics expert, you can help your company identify risk factors that often go unnoticed, measure the risk with an objective ergonomic evaluation, and implement control measures to reduce or eliminate ergonomic risk factors.