Computer monitors that are too close, repetitive motion and muscle fatigue may seem low risk but the injuries that come with them can be permanent and costly. In fact, work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time (1). Investing a little time and money on ergonomics in your workplace can add value for many years to come.
Ergonomics is the science of adapting the work environment to the physical needs of employees. This plays an essential role in increasing productivity through injury and stress prevention. These practices can help prevent fatigue, discomfort and even costly debilitating MSDs.
MSDs, often referred to as ergonomic injuries, accounted for 365,580 cases for all employees in 2014 (2).
Begin by familiarizing yourself with common sources of strain and overexertion. Then, take measures to eliminate the impact they can have on your employees. The following ergonomic best practices are a great place to start and address a variety of injury risks:
- Employees’ bodies can be thrown out of alignment, due to an increase in sedentary desk jobs, resulting in short and long-term medical issues.
- Utilize a rolling, ergonomic chair, equipped with back support and ample padding.
- Position monitors 20 to 30 inches from the face, eye level at top third of the screen, centered straight ahead of the user’s eyes.
- Sit up with back and shoulders straight with a few inches separating the back of the knees and edge of the chair.
Ergonomics encourages employees to stretch during and prior to the workday in order to increase circulation and boost energy levels, as well as take frequent breaks. There are also several simple stretching exercises that can be conducted every few hours to help avoid pain.
Promote safe lifting
Daily lifting of heavy loads is a constant threat to the spine, causing pain in discs, tendons and cartilage over time. With ergonomic methods, employees can lift and lower items without risking their safety.
Check out the additional workplace safety resources by industry or topic on WorkSAFE Center.
1. OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/index.html
2. Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 2014 Liberty Mutual Safety