A recent study has shown that 25 percent of workers complain of backache, 23 percent of muscular pains and 46 percent report working in painful or tiring positions as a direct result of poorly designed workstations.
With statistics like these, it’s no surprise that the study of ergonomics is becoming increasingly important.
Done well, ergonomic design can increase motivation and satisfaction, and that results in benefits in performance and productivity. It can also help prevent repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even arthritis.
Ross Townshend, an ergonomics expert for Bosch Rexroth, has written an insightful article discussing easy ideas on how to fully implement an ergonomic solution in any workplace. He lists seven key factors and in Part 1 we’ll look at the first three:
1: Body and working height
Working at the wrong height can lead to a hunched posture, craned neck and strained eyes. Manual workstations must accommodate a wide range of body heights to ensure that a tailored, rather than a one-size-fits-all, approach is taken.
The most important factors in the design of work stations are the working height, proper sizing of reach zones, leg room and range of vision.
It’s vital that operators have the opportunity to either sit down or stand up at their workstation, which promotes changes in posture, reducing stress and increasing performance.
2: Work area
Ergonomically designed stations reduce the risk of injury by adapting to fit the person instead of the other way around. No two workstations will be alike so it’s imperative to find the correct working method for each individual to achieve the best results. Within the work area the following rules must be observed:
- Avoid work above the heart
- Promote dynamic activities by avoiding standing still or static holding which inhibits circulation and oxygen supply to muscles
- Allow for varying physical exertion through use of stand-up, sit-down or job rotation
3: Reach zones
There are three key rules to follow when designing an employee’s reach zone at their workstation:
- All containers, equipment and operating elements must be easily accessible and arranged in the optimum anatomic/physiological range for employees
- Torso rotation and shoulder movements, particularly when under exertion (with heavy weights) should be avoided whenever possible