Ergonomics : What you need to know

Ergonomic principles are used as a tool to adapt the needs of the individual to the work environment. Ideally, ergonomic principles will prevent injury to the worker and reduce employer costs that are the result of work activity, workplace accidents, or other environmental risks. Sound ergonomics can be practiced in a workplace by seeking the involvement of management and employees who are most familiar with worksite hazards. There are numerous strategies that can be employed to assess and minimize risks. Training and education are effective tools for preventing workplace injuries.

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Ergonomics, most simply, is the study of work and, more precisely, the interaction among workers, machines, and the work environment in order to fit the job to the worker's needs. The effective fit of job and worker helps to increase productivity, avoid illness and injuries, and increase satisfaction among workers. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), health problems associated with ergonomics compose the most prevalent lost-time injuries and illnesses in almost every industry. The National Safety Council estimates that the back is the most commonly injured body part, resulting in upwards of $19 billion in medical bills and workers' compensation claims. Most of these back problems are symptoms of low-back injuries caused by heavy lifting or frequent bending. NIOSH has identified other types of disorders that can be caused by ergonomic problems:

  • Disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs
  • Disorders that are not typically caused by sudden injury or trauma (e.g., a slip and fall) but reflect a more gradual or chronic development ...

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