An Ergonomically Correct Workplace Is A Happy Workplace

July 3, 2012


Two weeks ago, we discussed the risks that neglecting ergonomic safety poses to a happy, healthy, productive worksite. Hopefully we’ve given you some insight into the issue and you have since explored how ergonomically safe your site is for your employees and facility team. Take your examination a step further and analyze how the following four ergonomic safety factors influence your site’s workman’s safety: Engineering Controls, Work Practices, Personal Protective Equipment and Medical Management.

Since the primary way to prevent ergonomic injury is to make the job fit the person, rather than the other way around, engineering controls play a prominent role in effective ergonomic enhancement methods. Engineering controls indicate employee equipment that can be modified and calibrated for individual worker comfort and safety. Workstation materials should support the natural joints and contours of the workers body, reducing bodily stress and strain. For desk jobs, this involves specialized chairs, desks and keyboards that a worker can adjust to suit his or her unique comfort proportions.

But comfort doesn’t stop with the body – it also involves the mind and the senses. Install lighting that reduces glare and eye strain when moving from monitor to word processor and back again.

For worksite labor jobs, whenever possible, reduce or eliminate the need for anyone to carry heavy loads, particularly over the head and especially repeatedly. If your facility requires such tasks to be performed regularly, consider installing automated machinery to assist workers. Also, consider carefully the tools your team must use. Ensure that your team uses lightweight, comfortably-designed tools to eliminate unnecessary strain or difficult movements.

The next consideration for analyzing your site’s safety should be examining the work practices you have in place. Proper work practices differ from engineering controls in that they have more to do with systematic, day-to-day tasks to ensure safety rather than a one and done equipment purchase or calibrated set up. Integrate proper work practices into your employees’ daily routines from the onset, from orientation throughout their entire tenure with your organization. Some key work practices include keeping hazardous areas clean of spills, roadblocks and debris, encouraging appropriate task breaks or job rotation mandating ongoing job training, monitoring, adjustments and maintenance.

Proper work practices may also involve the next area of safety factors: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE may be used to reduce vibration used from heavy machinery, add excessive grip strength or protect the body in hazardous work areas.

The fourth and final area to evaluate is Medical Management. By this, we refer to the standardized procedures instituted for managing work-related injuries and illnesses. This includes:

  • Injury and illness record keeping
  • Early recognition and symptom reporting
  • Systematic evaluations and referrals
  • Conservative reintegration into work
  • Systematic monitoring and walkthroughs
  • Adequate onsite medical staffing and facilities
  • Training and educating employees on their onsite medical options, systems and processes
  • Access to healthcare providers for each work shift

The way to prevent ergonomic injuries is the same as with many issues a facility manager encounters – planning. Proper planning, with regard to process development, employee training and equipment places the right strategies in place before a problem has a chance to occur. Do what you can for the health of your employees and the efficiency of your institutions – plan for the worst and prepare to facilitate the best.

For detailed help creating safety plans and processes for your worksite that safeguard and protect the health and well-being of your staff, contact the facility management experts, Vanguard Resources.