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  • Ergonomics: Can You Throw a Softball?

    Did this really exist 40 years ago? Just what is it and what does it mean to you? well here is a short but direct definition from “About homeergonomics

    Definition: Ergonomics is the science of work.

    “Ergonomics derives from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws. Combined they create a word that means the science of work and a persons relationship to that work.

    In application, ergonomics is a discipline focused on making products and tasks comfortable and efficient for the user.

    Ergonomics is sometimes defined as the science of fitting the work to the user, instead of forcing the user to fit the work. However, this is more a primary ergonomic principle rather than a definition”.

    As a safety advocate I think we see a lot of the symptoms and results of poor ergonomics, and probably don’t give it much thought until you or an employee are on the way to the doctor or pharmacist for pain meds, surgery, or physical therapy. This can literally be a real pain in the tush (not the medical term). Take a look around your work space, or audit your surroundings. Are you standing, sitting, turning, bending, typing or keyboarding as they refer to it today, lifting, walking, staring into a monitor or computer screen, throwing a baseball? Yes I did play a little baseball. What about repetitive motion? All of these conditions can lead to muscular and or skeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis, eye strain, torn rotator cuff, or any of a dozen problems with your neck and back. Yes I did have shoulder surgery.

    Avoiding these issues are solved by “Ergonomics.” Set up your workstation efficiently, choose the right chair and note the proper posture, and key board height, get up occasionally and stretch those back muscles and shoulders right down to your fingers. Standing? Start with proper footwear, and check out the cushioned anti-fatigue mats available today. Make sure your supplies are within easy reach to prevent twisting, so you’re not doing the “Beatles” old song “Twist and Shout”. Is lighting the issue? Have your health and safety person take a look at it for you. That’s a part of their job. If you have to lift? make sure you know the proper technique, lift with your legs not with your back or get the right equipment to do the lifting, pushing, or pulling for you. Putting a widget in a box all day? Check with your supervisor to see if you can rotate out to another job every couple of hours or so. If you recognize an issue, be proactive, don’t wait until you or your job jeopardizes your health.

    Whether you are in the office, the plant, laboratory at home in the kitchen, or are a softball player on weekends, learn how to throw a ball properly so you can play catch with the grandkids when you’re 63.

  • Ergonomics and it’s Benefits in Workplace Safety

    The fishing industry is one of those that have the most risky working conditions. Fishermen don’t only face the risk of physical pains from lifting heavy object, but also the constant threat of changing weather conditions. How are these hazards reduced?Michael Pines of EHS Today has a few tips here.

  • Trends in Workplace Ergonomics

    It might be a cliche, but the wisdom behind it will always be true: “Learn from your mistakes.” Workplace ergonomics has been in a long process of ‘doing it wrong and getting it right’. It started as a feeble concern, one that viewed ergonomics as a cost of business rather than a valuable capital expense; however, time has proven the potential effect of workplace safety and health to the overall position of a company. In Walt Rostykus’ post at OHS Online, he discussed the five key trends in workplace ergonomics management. What's the gist of these trends?

    First, is the gradual shift of companies from being reactive to being proactive. In the past, the success or failure of a safety program was solely measured using qualitative tools and employers were called to action only when they received complaints or had seen actual injuries. Today, companies tend to be more preventive and take action even before any safety mishaps occur.

    Second, is the integration of ergonomics with other main processes. Like other business flow structures, ergonomics is a continuous process of improvement.

    Third, the involvement has been extended to all levels. Safety is no longer the sole responsibility of employers. Employees are trained to make their own assessment and make the necessary changes in cases where employers cannot immediately answer to a safety threat in the workplace.

    Fourth, is the move to upstream design. Instead of evaluating programs at the last phase, reviews are made as early as the design phase itself. Logically, it is cheaper to make changes in the planning stage than after all the equipment and layouts are already in place.

    Lastly, office ergonomics is no longer one-person focused. It considers the need of a whole department.

    If we look closely at these five trends, there’s one recurring theme: effective workplace ergonomics is employee-driven.

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