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Proactive ergonomics will help you reduce these six health and safety risks

by , 17 July 2013
Did you know that over five million workers worldwide sustain overextension injuries every year? You can avoid these injuries and save thousands of rands by implementing basic ergonomic principles in your workplace. Here's how to do it...

The Health and Safety Advisor defines ergonomics as the science of fitting job functions to the physical capabilities of the human body.

In the absence of proper ergonomics on the production floor, your employees could suffer musculoskeletal disorders because of a mismatch of their physical capacity to the demands of their occupation.

It's important to introduce ergonomics in your workplace, particularly if any part of your work involves:

  • Reaching, for instance, cashiers, workers on production or assembly lines and mechanics, technicians.
  • Bending over, for example, packers, operators, maintenance staff, cleaners, gardeners.
  • Using continuous force, for instance operators, machinists, computer workers.
  • Working with vibrating equipment, this includes jackhammer handlers and forklift drivers.

Reduce these six hazards with efficient ergonomics measures

#1: Awkward posture: Strive to arrange the work environment or work processes to allow your employees to work from a comfortable, neutral posture. You should eliminate excessive bending, reaching, awkward neck, back and arm positions.

#2: High repetition: Control repetition by using equipment like mechanical supports. Allow employees to rotate tasks, by assuring adequate staffing and ensuring employees take regular breaks.

#3: Excessive force: Control the need to exert excessive force by using proper equipment and ensuring equipment operates properly at all times and receives adequate help from colleagues or supervisors.

#4: Contact stresses: Avoid contact with sharp, abrupt edges whether from a fixed piece of furniture or from a tool with effective workplace design and proper training methods.

#5: Vibration: Reduce vibration at the source through tool or equipment selection or by padding the body against vibration, like padded gloves, kidney belts.

#6: Extreme temperatures: Control workplace ambient temperature with air conditioners and temperature gauges whenever possible.

Turn to chapter E07 of your Health and Safety Advisor and get a general ergonomics checklist  make sure you're on the right side of the health and safety law.

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