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Ergonomics in the workplace shouldn't be ignored in your Health and Safety Training Manual!

by , 22 April 2015
Ergonomics, unfortunately, remains only a notion for many employers who decide they don't have the time, the money or any other resources to apply the principles in the every day work.

This remains a top health and safety mistake.

After all, ergonomics is all about applying and designing objects, systems and the environment for it's proper use that doesn't put your employees at risk.

It means dealing with the interaction of technology and work situations and how it affects the human being.

The basic human sciences involved are:

1. Anatomy (physical human structure of the body);

2. Physiology (composition of work, functions of work, structure of work); and

3. Psychology (the human mind, mental states, human behaviour).

Going further, an ergonomist is a professionally registered and specially certificated person, who has attended university and is trained in ergonomics.

These sciences are applied by the ergonomist towards two main objectives:

•  The most productive use of human capabilities; and
•  The maintenance of human health and well-being.

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When hiring an ergonomist, note that the job must 'fit' the person, and the work situation should not compromise human capabilities and limitations.

On the most basic level, ergonomics involves improving the physical 'fit' between people and the things they use, ranging from hand tools to chair design.  

Role and context of Ergonomics in your Health and Safety Training Manual

Although ergonomic problems may not be high on the list of priority for health and safety problems that many workers face, the increasing number of workers affected by poor work design make ergonomic effects important!

Ergonomic studies are performed to remove conditions from your work environment that cause your workers to experience discomfort, fatigue or poor health.

For example, your worker's risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries is greatly reduced, or even eliminated completely if your worker is provided with properly designed hand tools (where hand tools are used) from the time the work begins for a job.

Keep in mind that without using ergonomic principles, tools, machines, equipment and workstations are often designed without much thought into the fact that people are of all different heights, shapes and sizes, and have different levels of strength.   

To conclude, here are a few aspects to remember together with the very practical notion of ergonomics:

1. Workers suffer from injuries and diseases resulting from manual work and the increased mechanisation of work.
2. Ergonomics looks at ways to make the job fit your worker, instead of forcing your worker to fit the job.
3. Ergonomics can be used to improve poor working conditions.
4. Ergonomics can be used to prevent bad design from being built into a job if applied when jobs, tools or workstations are set up.
5. Without the application of ergonomic principles, your workers are often forced to adapt themselves to poor working conditions.

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