Ergonomics 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 morale and productivity. Sound ergonomics can best be achieved by seeking the involvement of management and the employees who are most familiar with worksite hazards.
Health issues caused by poor ergonomics. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) finds that health problems associated with poor ergonomics compose the most prevalent lost-time injuries and illnesses in almost every industry. The National Safety Council estimates that these problems cost employers billions in medical bills and workers' compensation claims. NIOSH has identified these disorders, ranging in severity from mild and intermittent to debilitating and chronic, that can be caused by ergonomic problems:
• Low-back injuries caused by heavy lifting or frequent bending
• Disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs
• Disorders not typically caused by sudden injury or trauma, but reflecting a more gradual or chronic development (e.g., musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) or repetitive stress injuries)
• Disorders with several distinct features (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome) as well as disorders defined primarily by the location of the pain (e.g., low-back pain)
Important elements of an ergonomic process. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has identified the following as important elements of an ergonomic process:
• Provide management support. A strong commitment by management is ...