Workplace tips for a strong ergonomic process
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explains ergonomics as the process of “fitting the job to the person.” This process can help improve productivity, reduce muscle fatigue, and lower the amount and seriousness of workplace musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affecting workers’ muscles, tendons, and nerves. These injuries are one of the leading causes of lost work days and create significant costs for employers due to reduced productivity and lost-time claims.
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study, industries with the highest rates of MSDs are construction, warehousing and transportation, health care, and retail and wholesale trade. Employees in many other occupations can also be exposed to ergonomic risks like heavy lifting, reaching above, bending, pulling and pushing loads, repetitive physical tasks, and laboring in awkward positions.
Developing an ergonomic process has helped many workplaces improve employee health and safety and reduce costs. Below are some tips recommended by OSHA to help implement this process:
• Get managers involved. Management support is crucial for achieving results with an ergonomic process. Make sure managers are aware of the benefits of the process, and that they set and communicate program goals and assign duties throughout the workplace
• Invite employees to participate and provide feedback. Workers often have important insights into safety issues. Involve employees in the process of identifying hazards and evaluating solutions. Invite them to voice their questions, concerns, and ideas about making the workplace more ergonomically safe
• Train workers. Provide employees with the information needed to understand the benefits of ergonomics. Make sure crews are able to identify the hazards and related safety procedures to ensure a successful ergonomic process
• Identify specific workplace issues. Implement a process to pinpoint risks and problems unique to a facility or jobsite before they cause injuries
• Urge employees to report signs of MSD immediately. By encouraging workers to report symptoms of MSDs as early as possible, managers can reduce the number of serious injuries, speed up the identification of safety hazards and efforts to improve them, and avoid costs associated with lost work time
• Implement solutions to reduce ergonomic risks. Put into place engineering controls, safer administration and work practices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) such as ergonomic lifting and back supports, industrial ergonomic knee pads, wrist supports, wraps, and braces, and pull-on ankle supports
• Regularly evaluate results. Establish methods for determining whether ergonomic policies are achieving the desired goals. Meet to discuss progress, correcting issues, and ensuring the success of the process
Implementing an ergonomic safety process can offer advantages to workplaces as diverse as offices, warehouses, construction sites, and manufacturing plants. Improve worker safety by beginning this process and selecting the right ergonomic supplies, including hand protection like anti-vibration, anti-fatigue, impact, lifting, and mechanics gloves.