What is “ergonomics”? Ergonomics means “Fitting the job to the worker.”
Ergonomics… is the science and practice of designing jobs and workplaces to match the capabilities and limitations of the human body. As early as in 18th century doctors noted that workers who required to maintain body positions for long periods of time developed musculoskeletal problems.Within last 20 years, research has clearly established connections between certain job tasks and RSI or MSD. To understand the problem we should know what are the reasons behind these problem. What two elements are at work?
- Static work: Musculoskeletal effort required to hold a certain position, even a comfortable one.
- Force: Amount of tension our muscles generate
These forces cause excessive and repetitive stresses on the muscles, joints and tendons and gives rise to various musculoskeletal problems. Hence, it becomes imperative for us to create a working environment which is ergonomically fit for the work.
Benefits of Ergonomics
- Ergonomics helps to prevent injuries
- Ergonomics Improves quality of work
- Improves quality of life & Reduced fatigue and discomfort
What? Overuse injuries, soft tissue injuries which occur gradually also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) are Work-related Musculo-Skeletal Disorders(WMSD). Common WMSDs are:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Slipped spinal discs
- Rotator cuff tendinitis
- De’quervain’s tendinitis
- Trigger finger
- Carpet layer’s knee
- Tennis elbow
Heavy, frequent, or awkward lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying loads, working in awkward postures, intensive hand work, like pinching, gripping, repetitive postures, vibrations are the common causes of WMSDs.
The common symptoms are painful joints like wrist, knees, shoulders, tingling, numbness in fingers, severe nagging pain in both legs and feet, severe back ache or neck pain, reduced range of movements in joints, loss of grip or difficulty in holding objects.
To avoid these problems, dictum “Prevention is better than cure” fits perfectly… So, lets start by knowing how we can avoid these problems. To get started:
- a) Warm up & stretch before activities that are repetitive, static or prolonged
- b) Take frequent breaks from ANY sustained posture every 20-30 minutes
- c) Respect pain – positions or stop painful activity
- d) Recognize early signs of inflammatory process, & report early
- e) Maintain proper postures while sitting and standing
- f) Avoid lifting heavy weights.
- g) Slide objects instead of lifting them
- h) Store heavy items where you won’t have to bend or reach to lift them
- i) Use ladders to get items down from high shelves.
- j) Hold objects closer to your body when lifting
The key is to Relax yourself at work. Its really important to create ergonomical habits and environment at work place to protect yourself.
- Take “stretch pauses”: Take frequent breaks from ANY sustained posture every 20-30 minutes.
- Improve your posture
- Move around as much as possible
- Warm up & stretch before activities that are repetitive, static or prolonged
- Recognize early signs of inflammation
- Help yourself to avoid such problems.
- Understand your work and do it right way.
- Work towards improving your working conditions
- Be ergonomical at work.
- Reporting problem early is important.
It’s really important to realise the importance of ergonomics at work and follow it at work. Otherwise, over the months & years the work will take its toll on your body.
So, be fit and keep ur workplace fitter!