Ergonomics is a way to design your entire work environment for safety and ease, no matter where your employees work or what their occupation is. While it is traditionally used in office environments, your employees don’t necessarily have to have a desk job in order to realize the benefits of proper ergonomics.
By changing the way your work environment is set up, whether your business environment involves working in a warehouse with inventory, driving a fleet for service calls or deliveries, or serving customers in a restaurant, you can find ways to sit, stand, bend, lift, and generally work in order for proper support of the back, neck, arms and legs.
In a nutshell, workplace ergonomics reduces workplace injuries and the risk of repetitive motion injuries. As a business owner, paying attention to ergonomics can help reduce workers’ compensation claims.
With proper ergonomics, your workplace is altered so that the tools and equipment that your employees use and tasks performed on a regular basis are easier, safer, are within reach and at the right level and distance — whether it is reaching the steering wheel and foot pedal in delivery jobs or accessing tools used in manufacturing positions.
You also help to reduce repetitive motion injuries, such as neck, shoulder, and back injuries, headaches, eye strain, and tendon issues when proper workplace ergonomics are in place. Common injuries that occur at work include repetitive motions, falling, bending over or lifting heavy objects improperly, and improper posture. Ergonomics helps prevent many of these injuries.
Dangers of Non-Office Occupations
Nearly every occupation has the risks of neck or back injury, repetitive motion injuries of the hands or wrists, and conditions involving the arms or legs — and in many cases these risks are increased when the work involves physical work. Employees who work in a non-office occupation are often required to perform tasks that involve physical exertion and movement. This “physical work” may lead to fatigue, musculoskeletal disorders, and other serious injuries.
Tips for Improving Ergonomics
Depending on the type of non-office work your employees do, the work can be made safer and easier if it is straight in front of them. This means sitting or standing up straight and having work at eye level. Nothing should be too high, low, or off to the side when it can be helped.
Additionally, employees’ arms and hands should not be reaching in awkward angles repeatedly when performing their work tasks, as this can cause a wide range of injuries. With ergonomics, changing the position regularly is also recommended. This means employees should not doing the exact same work in the exact same position for their entire shift. If tools or equipment that need to be accessed not in front of the worker, advise them to turn their entire body instead of twisting or reaching.
For workers that stand for their occupation, be sure they are standing up straight with their feet slightly apart, and not arching their back or bending over slightly. Your drivers should have a straight sitting position, with their chair adjusted according to their height. Be sure their knees are level with their hips.
Aside from following these tips to ensure your employees are avoiding injury and practicing ergonomics in the workplace, be sure to have workers’ compensation insurance. This helps cover medical costs associated with workplace injuries.