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Ergonomics for Employers

Greg Andress
by Greg Andress on August 20, 2015

 

Ergonomics

The topic of ergonomics may seem intimidating and costly, but in reality, it is quite simple. Ergonomics is necessary for any small business owner who is responsible for managing their employees. Ergonomics is defined as “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment,” according to Google.

If that doesn’t make sense, think of ergonomics like this: instead of making the human being adapt to job function, it is more about having the job function adapt to the human being.

No matter what industry you are in, having a foundational understanding for proper ergonomics will reduce injuries and yield better productivity from your employees. In this article, we are going to cover the basic concerns, symptoms and ways to educate your employees on ergonomics.

Areas of Concern

Before you can become an expert at ergonomics, you need to know the different types of scenarios where it may play a role. A few of these are:

  • Material handling
  • Tools
  • Positions/postures
  • Repetitive work
  • Seating

This spans across all industries, and isn’t exclusive to white or blue-collar work. If any of your employees fall under one of these umbrellas, then you need to be alert as an employer. Material handling, tools and the others listed above can cause serious injuries over time and impairment to your employees.

Symptoms

There are a variety of symptoms that can occur with repetitive movements and other posture problems in the workplace. Some of these are:

  • Muscle pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Loss of strength/joint movement

If any of these symptoms are emerging in your employees, it is imperative to reevaluate the workplace and, as said before, have the job function adapt to the human being.

Know How to Prevent Injuries From Happening

To prevent ergonomic injuries from happening, employers should:

  • Be aware of the risks associated with the employer’s industry
  • Provide safety classes and workshops to employees
  • Offer safety equipment
  • Educate your employees on ergonomic risks

Educate Your Employees

Implementing changes in the job function shouldn’t be a difficult task for employers. Sometimes, a solution to an employee’s posture problem can be as simple as lowering the chair or adjusting the arm rest.

Here are some tips on how to educate your employees to avoid injury. Employees should:

  • Take breaks and stretch to avoid cramping in their hands or wrists
  • Carry things waist height rather than shoulder height to avoid strain
  • Monitor their posture at the computer to ensure it is right for them
  • Notify their supervisor or employer if they are experiencing symptoms or pain while on the job

The Takeaway

When you’re dealing with an ergonomics issue, many times the solution is not all that difficult. Whether it’s a small change in posture job function, optimizing this can yield great results for employees and employers alike. A lot of business owners (regardless of size) send ergonomic experts into businesses to review and make recommendations, and these owners get scared of the expensive modifications it may take. Many times, this is not the case, and it can be a small tweak to help make the job function easier.

Ergonomics is common sense, and it doesn’t have to be rocket science. By practicing proper ergonomics, you can make a more productive and safer workplace for your employees. We hope you found this helpful to adapt job functions and practice proper ergonomics for a healthier and more productive workplace!

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Greg Andress
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Andress

Greg Andress, Director of Risk Management Services for Frank Winston Crum Insurance, is a 30+ veteran of the insurance industry who has spent more than 20 years in risk management/loss control. With clients in many industries, Greg has developed proactive loss control programs, training materials and technical bulletins; and delivered training for hundreds of clients nationwide to help them understand how they can identify and control their total cost of loss.