When we hear the word “ergonomics,” what typically comes to mind is a workstation set up for perfect posture at a computer. The spine is in neutral alignment, elbows sit at 90 degrees, hips and knees are at 90 degrees, and the wrists align naturally with a keyboard. Something like this:
While that’s all well and good, static positions are only one piece of someone’s workday, especially if they don’t work at a desk. Ergonomics involve proper body mechanics for pushing, pulling, lifting, or carrying,as well as body positions and function if someone works along an assembly line.
There’s good reason for employers to have ergonomic set up in the workplace. According to OSHA, musculoskeletal disorders, such as low back injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or rotator cuff injuries, account for 33% of worker-related injury. These injuries contribute to restricted or lost work time, which, let’s be honest, no one wants. It’s cheaper (and healthier!) for everyone to take a proactive approach and have an ergonomic assessment. Fit the job to your employees! This ma
y mean modifying existing equipment, changes in work practices, or purchasing tools to make a physically demanding job easier. These can all decrease the risk of workplace injury, which then lowers the chances of having worker’s compensation costs.
OSHA suggests following several “controls” where employers can institute good ergonomics. First, engineering controls involve physical changes to the workplace. Standing desks with good postural alignment is an example of this for office workers. Changing a workstation to decrease time spent bent over or using machinery to perform heavy lifts are other examples. Second, administrative controls involve instituting more frequent breaks to decrease repetition or writing policies that limit how much weight employees lift. Third, the final control involves personal protective equipment; providing face masks to healthcare workers has certainly been at the forefront this spring, but PPE could also include protective gear against cold weather for construction workers.
Peak Form Medical Clinic can provide on-site ergonomic assessments that typically fall under the engineering controls category. We can assess current set-up and modify workstations, so they allow for neutral alignment with minimal over-reaching. This can reduce the risk of repetitive movement injuries. We can educate on proper lifting mechanics to prevent lower back injuries for heavy loads. Include your employees in these assessments – they’re the ones doing the job, after all, and they can accurately describe what works well and what doesn’t.
We provide care for injured workers, yes, but we are also proponents of injury prevention! Reach out today for an on-site ergonomic assessment.