Ergonomics relates to designing a workplace environment to fit the worker, which keeps workers safe and more efficient. With the variations of how the standard workplace can look across different jobs, there are examples of poor ergonomics all around us. For some, there are obvious ones, while for others, we do not realize the significant impact small actions can have on our health and well-being over time, possibly leading to developing Musculoskeletal Disorders. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Organization (OSHA), exposure to certain risk factors over time can increase a worker’s risk of injury. Most of these injuries are preventable by understanding the impact of poor ergonomics, the examples of it around us, and solutions to fix them.
Impact of Poor Ergonomics
Poor ergonomics can negatively impact workers through lost workdays and possibly long-term health consequences. Around $18 billion of workers’ compensation costs for companies come from ergonomic injuries each year. According to OSHA, Work-related musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. There are many easy-to-implement best practices to fix poor ergonomics in a work environment, but first, we need to find examples of poor ergonomics in the workplace around us.
Examples of Poor Ergonomics in the Workplace
Whether the work tasks require being at a desk or in a different facility, there are many examples of poor ergonomics in the workplace. Being aware of some of the many occurrences that can take place in the workplace can help individuals identify and find solutions for them.
- Excessive Force
Excessive force can occur by lifting heavy objects and people, especially in the incorrect position. Other examples include pushing or pulling heavy loads and maintaining control of equipment in the workplace. Excessive force is considered a risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders involving joints, bones, muscles, and multiple body areas or systems.
- Poor Sitting Posture
Although it might feel comfortable at times, having a poor sitting position can have many negative impacts on your spine over time. Complications caused by this include spinal dysfunction, premature joint degeneration, nerve pinching, and chronic back pains.
- Prolonged Stationary Position
One of the more surprising examples of poor ergonomics in the workplace is prolonged stationary position, or staying in the same posture at work for many hours of a day. The impact of staying in the same stance for an extended amount of time can cause strain on certain parts of your body and increase your risk of chronic health problems.
- Frequent, Repetitive Movements
On the other hand, frequent, repetitive movements can cause pain and inflammation in muscles and joints. Even simple activities that are done daily, such as packing, using a keyboard, or using power tools, can have adverse effects over time when done repeatedly for long intervals of time. Signs such as fatigue or tiredness in those areas will indicate changing the movement. Some conditions that these repetitive movements can cause frequently include tendonitis, tenosynovitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Poor Lighting
Poor lighting in a workplace can affect your vision, productivity, and energy levels while at work. Adverse health effects of poor lighting include headaches and migraines, poor sleep, eyestrain, and fatigue or drowsiness.
How to Fix Poor Ergonomics at Work
While there are numerous forms of poor ergonomics at work, there are also many solutions that can be put in place to fix these issues and prevent injuries as well.
- Recognize Warning Signs in the Workplace
Being aware of changes in the workplace environment can help identify poor ergonomics at work and put together solutions to fix them. Some warning signs to look out for in employees include shaking or rubbing of hands and arms, needing to wear arm or knee braces, rolling their shoulders, and employees making changes to their workplace or tools to continue their work. Noticing warning signs helps to prevent injuries due to poor ergonomics.
- Neutral Sitting Posture
Continuing to practice a neutral sitting position at both home and work can assist in fixing poor sitting posture in the office and the negative effects that come with it. While working at a desk, having a supportive chair can help support your back and lumbar curve. A neutral posture can help relieve pain in your spine and prevent future health problems.
- Take Frequent Microbreaks
Using small pockets of time to take a walk, stretch, or otherwise move your body is another way to fix poor ergonomics. Even a break as short as 30 seconds to 5 minutes counters poor ergonomics at work, especially for workers in a stationary position for long periods. Microbreaks help to reduce the chances of developing musculoskeletal disorders caused by poor ergonomics.
- Good Lighting
The lighting of a workplace affects workers’ physical health as well. Good lighting in the workplace can reduce eye fatigue and headaches, keeping workers productive and alert. Based on the job, the intensity or color of lighting can also be changed to help with the mood of the atmosphere in the workplace.
A Successful Ergonomics Program
A successful ergonomics program can help find examples of poor ergonomics in specific workplaces while also implementing solutions to counter them. It involves the employees as well as giving support to them from management. Having a successful ergonomics program in place in the workplace can decrease the number of poor ergonomics in the workplace and measure and evaluate a company’s progress while using the program.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace can have a heavy impact on individual workers and the company, but as we have read, in many ways, it is preventable. While many examples of poor ergonomics exist, solutions also exist to help companies keep workers healthy and productive. Awareness of signs of poor ergonomics in the workplace is imperative to making the improvements needed to limit the risks of health issues that can be prevented.
Need assistance with creating an ergonomics program that works for your company? Contact the team at BioFunctional Health today!