Your Safety: Everyday ergonomics

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Everyday ergonomics

What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics comes from two Greek words ERGOS (work) and NOMOS (natural law). Loosely translated, it means the rules of work. Essentially, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job. Many people think that ergonomics is only associated with computers. However, ergonomic principles can be applied to any task that puts your body to work, from doing your household chores to the daily routines of your job.

Ergonomics is used to eliminate or reduce the wear and tear on the body that may cause a task to become difficult or painful. Ergonomically designed work processes, tools, equipment and workstations are adapted to the capabilities and limitations of the human body. When ergonomic principles are applied in a workplace, they improve efficiency and productivity, increase job satisfaction and reduce the risk of fatigue, short-term pain and chronic illnesses, such as work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

Ergonomic job design
Work that is ergonomically designed includes these important elements:

task variety – alternating tasks within a job minimizes repetitive activities and reduces wear and tear on the body
appropriate work pace – when the pace of work is too fast, the body has very little recovery time between repetitive or forceful movements
work breaks – resting, stretching or changing position between tasks helps prevent muscle fatigue and injury
rest breaks – stopping work for a period time during the day provides an important physical and mental break
training and education – acquiring the appropriate skills to do a job safely and efficiently prevents accidents and injury

Ergonomic basics
Many ergonomic solutions are low-tech and common sense – simple changes can make a big difference. Here are some tips to help you improve the ergonomics of your work area:

keep tools, materials, equipment in easy reach
work at proper heights in relation to your body – use adjustable workstations (chairs, tables, platforms)
work in a good, comfortable posture
reduce excessive repetition in tasks and activities
avoid excessively forceful movements – e.g. striking computer keys with too much force, twisting or jerking to lift heavy loads
minimize general fatigue by taking appropriate work and rest breaks
avoid direct pressure on legs, feet and hands
maintain a comfortable environment (heat, light, humidity)
organize work processes efficiently

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Working at a computer all day? Find out how to set up your workstation ergonomically.

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