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The “Between the Lines” News Blog. is a series of collected and reproduced articles from industry publications. These stories are provided in this brief format to keep you current on important and interesting industry information. You can receive more detailed information by accessing the URL provided in each article brief. You may unsubscribe by e-mailing or phoning our office.

Why is Ergoniomics Important?
By: Rhonda Weiss  -  10/12/2012

According to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) , ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Although the scope of ergonomics is much broader, the term here refers to assessing those work-related factors that may pose a risk of musculoskeletal disorders and recommendations to alleviate them.

In other words ergonomics helps to: alleviate or prevent workplace injuries, decreased productivity and absenteeism, thereby creating a healthier and safe work environment. In this newsletter we'd like to share three reasons why ergonomics is important.
In a 2010 report the Bureau of Labor and Statics (BLS) reported:

  • 3.6 million workplace injuries
  • 34% of workplace injuries are caused by poor ergonomics
  • 50% of occupational injuries and illnesses result in days away from work or job transfers

Ergonomics Minimizes Injury
Workplace injuries are caused by improper body mechanics: repetitive movements, poor posture, and the frequency of seating and standing in one position. The majority of these injures are from repetitive straining. For example typing for long periods of time; staring at computer monitors from odd angles; using the phone all day; and lifting heavy office supply boxes.
All these daily work activities repeated over time can result in wrist, back, neck, and shoulder injuries. These injuries affect the soft tissue of the body such as muscles, tendons, blood vessels, ligaments and nerves. Common injuries to these tissues caused by lack of or insufficient ergonomics include back pain, chronic soreness, carpel tunnel syndrome, tendinitis and hernias. [1]

Ergonomics Improves Productivity
According to a 2002 report from the BLS, the median number of repetitive motion injury absences is 23 days. Overall, repetitive motion is the number one cause for workplace injury and illness absences. [2]
A 1986 study by the Army Corps of Engineers documented a 20.6 percent improvement in employee productivity one year after ergonomic furniture solutions was installed.
Instituting ergonomic workspaces and furniture in the workplace improves job performance; because employees aren't dealing with pain and fatigue associated with repetitive straining or injuries. They are now able to concentrate and give focus to their jobs.
Ergonomics Creates A Safe Workplace
A safe workplace is one that uses preventive measures to keep employees healthy while on the job. Preventative measures include education, training, and properly fitted workspaces and furniture. After receiving proper training employees are responsible for putting those tips into practice.
Eyestrain can be prevented by: taking breaks; shifting focus from close up to 20 feet away frequently; reducing glare & keeping computer monitors in a 90 degree angle from light sources.
Back, neck, shoulder pain can be prevented by: a proper fitting chair, proper desk height, maintaining good posture, using hands free telephone headsets, and the like.
Wrist and nerve injuries can be prevented by: proper desk to elbow alignment, a proper fitting chair, proper desk height, and taking frequent breaks. 
Ergonomics is important! It ensures that your organization maintains a healthy work environment; a workplace that provides and invests in resources and tools to keep staff productive and effective at their jobs. When your work environment is healthy you reduce the amount of injuries employees experience in workplace environments.
Your organization takes proactive measures to increase worker productivity. It's important that everyone in the workplace knows how to prevent injury and knows the importance of ergonomics. Overall your organization can instill pride in its employees, because their organization helps them to stay healthy.

  • Does your workplace educate workers on work environment safety?
  • Does your workplace provide appropriate workstations designed to prevent injury?
  • Do employees with injuries receive the resources they need to stay healthy at work?
  • Are task chairs fitted to employees to maximize proper fit to function?

[1] Understanding Ergonomics, Part I by Mike Eldridge

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