Ergonomics: Safe at Work and at Home
The word ergonomics (or laws of work) means fitting the job around the person so they can work effectively without putting themselves in harm's way. The concept is, for very good reasons, getting very popular in relation to workstations, chair and tool design.
Employers are starting to realise the value of ergonomics, because the cost of a person off work due to injury is much higher than improving workplace safety.
Anything that interferes with a persons ability to work safely and effectively comes under the umbrella of ergonomics:
- Posture. Static positions lead to discomfort, reduced circulation, stiffness, etc. Aim for neutral spine and regular movement.
- Visibility. Poor posture results from the head protuding because we can't see.
- Environment. Altered humidity levels can cause workers' fatigue and lower concentration (and so can noise) which make them more accident prone.
A good workplace assessment can prevent a lot of trouble and save a substantial amount of money. They are conducted by ergonomics specialists, who are often physiotherapists. This means that they have firsthand experience of the effects of poor ergonomics in the workplace - since these provide the bulk of their patients. Some employers are even entitled to discounts on their ACC bills when they follow good health and safety practices.
Ergonomics is not just for work: in fact, most accidents occur at home. Even though the home is not considered a work environment it is a place where a lot of work gets done. This is why good ergonomics is as important at home as anywhere else. Look at your house from an ergonomics perspective: Are you bending over to pick up your laundry? Where are the biggest hazards and what can you do to remove them? Could you rotate tasks so the burden of the more risky ones is shared?
Talk to your employer if you feel that your work is putting you at risk. As for home, you're the boss, so don't wait to take matters in your own hands and stay safe!