Who doesn’t want to enjoy going to work? Unfortunately, many workers do not enjoy their work or the environment in which they work. An understanding of ergonomics in your workplace may help solve some of the problems and help you enjoy your job.
Where does ergonomics fit in?
Ergonomics is a science that is sometimes referred to as the science of “human factors”. Human factors may have either a positive or a negative effect on the functioning of technological systems and products. The main aim in applying ergonomic principles to the workplace and its workers is, therefore, to design safe, effective and productive work systems and environments that reduce work-related accidents and ill health and enhance job satisfaction and productivity.
How is it done?
Ergonomists have to take the following into consideration when designing workplaces, systems, tools and equipment:
- The job being done and how it impacts on the user/worker
- The equipment; its size, shape and if it is appropriate to the job being done
- The worker and his/her physical and mental abilities such as body size and shape; posture, fitness and strength; vision, hearing and touch; personality, mental abilities, knowledge and experience and how to prevent muscle, nerve and ligament stresses and strains
- Information used and how it is presented, accessed and changed to prevent workers becoming stressed out and flustered
- Physical work environment and how it is affected by noise, lighting, air quality, temperature, humidity and other factors
- Social environment and whether workers are supported by management and co-workers and receive adequate training and time to do the job.
How can workers implement change
If you are unhappy in your work environment or suffer from work-related stresses and strains such as backache and sore wrists and eyes, the first step to take is to look at your own posture and how and where you are sitting or standing.
The human body is not made to sit or stand in one position for hours on end. You can make a change by sitting up straight in your chair with your back and neck supported by the chair back and by changing your position from time to time. Taking frequent breaks to stand up and stretch or have a drink of water will also help and will give your eyes a rest too! Speak to your employer if your chair has no arm or backrest and therefore causes you to lean forward or sit on the edge of your chair.
Small changes such as cleaning up your workstation and positioning your computer in a different way to eradicate glare may also solve a lot of your problems and help eliminate eye strain.
If the equipment you are using is difficult to handle or you are not adequately trained to do so, speak to your employer about it. Try to figure out how to solve the problem and make suggestions to remedy the problem. Your employer will appreciate your attitude and effort.
You, the worker, will be better at identifying the problems that have a negative impact on your health, safety and productivity when you understand what ergonomics is all about.
Human factors and ergonomics. Wikipedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_factors_and_ergonomics.
Understanding ergonomics at work. HSE leaflet. Retrieved from: http://www,hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg90.pdf