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Ergonomics

August 9, 2011

I work in retail have good working conditions.  The company comes out every so often to ensure that all of our lighting is working, and our heating and air-conditioning works.  When something does go out they are quick at fixing the issue.  This is part of the OSHA requirement that can fall under ergonomics.  Ergonomics is the proper design of the work environment to address the physical demands experienced by employees.  When doing an assessment of how ergonomic your business is there are three aspects to consider.  The first being physiological being the items such as lighting and ventilation. Psychological factors would be items such as fatigue and stress.  The last factor is engineering design such as the layout and tools provided to complete the work.   When these items work together in a positive way it can help prevent accidents in the workplace.

When companies lose focus on the physical demands of the workplace there can and probably will be incidents that need to be recorded on the proper OSHA log.  There are many medical conditions which can occur on the job.  One such condition is musculoskeletal disorders.  This can include diseases that affect the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, blood vessels, and spinal disks.  This disorder is caused by repetitive motion.  Another issue that can arise from improper ergonomics is back issues for employees.  These are just two examples of issues which can happen from bad or out of date ergonomics.

There are a number of ways to increase the ergonomic functions within a company.  These can include setting up an ergonomics team to provide the necessary feedback on problems or future problems in the working areas.  To be effective the team needs to consist of members from management as well as employees.  The suggestions the team makes means nothing without the budget set up to support it, so there should be a fund available for improvement to be made in the working design.  If there is a budget and the necessary adjustments are made there still needs to be the proper channel of feedback.  This can be done through creating workplace surveys. In my opinion the number one prevention tool is training.  There are proper lifting techniques along with back braces to remind employees to lift properly.  If employees are trained on the symptoms there can be measures put in place to prevent it from becoming worse.

Employee safety and health should be the number one priority for companies.  Without them there is often times no business.  Please feel free to leave comments.

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