Ergonomics is the study of how the human body interacts with a working environment. Also referred to as human factors, ergonomic factors can vary greatly between worksites, tasks, and individuals. Ergonomic issues may arise when a task is not properly fitted to the human that performs it. Ergonomic issues can range from poor work quality and inefficiency to worker health and safety concerns such as musculoskeletal disorders and chronic injury.
A successful ergonomics program helps reduce or control injuries and illnesses related to ergonomics issues through the use of engineering or administrative controls. Such controls address issues individuals may encounter in a workplace whether in a place of business or while working remotely. Through evaluation and design of workplaces, environments, job tasks, equipment, and work processes in relationship to the physicality of a worker and their interactions in a work space. Factors targeted through an evaluation may include workstation design, overuse of muscles, posture, repetitive motion, vibration, ambient temperatures, and lighting.
Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)
Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) are injuries or disorders to the nerves, muscles, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs in which the working environment or performance of work significantly contributed to or caused; and/or are conditions that persist or are made worse due to working conditions.
Risk Factors for Work-Related MSD:
- Repetitive motion
- Poor/Awkward posture
- Ambient Temperature
- Material handling
- Inadequate lighting
- Extend sedentary periods
Office Ergonomics and Remote Workers
Offices are host to risk factors just like any other work space, where extended durations of exposure to awkward posture, sedentary positions, and poorly designed workstations can lead to prevalence of injury to the neck, back, wrists, hands, and joints of workers. The advent of widespread remote work has introduced new challenges in controlling exposures to MSD risk factors, as well as increased the prevalence of MSD under-reporting. Challenges specific to hybrid work ergonomics include:
- Limited workstation design resources
- Implementation of feasible solutions
- Static workstation designs
- Poor understanding of individual worker physicality
- MSD underreporting
How RHP Can Help
RHP health and safety professionals’ onsite evaluations observe workplace practices related to a full range of tasks in manufacturing, industrial, and office settings related to lifting, holding, pushing, walking, and reaching to devise ergonomic mitigation strategies. Ergonomic problems are often observed as a result from technological changes such as increased assembly line speeds, adding specialized tasks, and increased repetition; while others arise from poorly designed job tasks. Any of these conditions can cause ergonomic hazards including excessive vibration and noise, eye strain, repetitive motion, and heavy lifting problems. Ergonomic hazards are avoided primarily by the effective design of a job or work space and by better designed tools or equipment that meet workers’ needs in terms of physical environment and job tasks. RHP can assist with job evaluation, and identifying solutions to reduce employee exposure to MSD risk factors in the workplace.
Contact Our Industrial Hygiene Experts Today
RHP Risk Management’s Certified Industrial Hygienists and Certified Safety Professionals provide ergonomic services to evaluate and identify hazards within your workplace. RHP’s professionals are trained and experienced in mitigating the complex nature of ergonomic hazards within a wide range of industries. RHP will guide you through the complexities of applicable guidelines and help navigate your company in the process of identifying and evaluating workplace modifications that apply to your company’s specific operations.
Contact RHP Risk Management for an initial phone consultation by calling (773) 867-6010.