Ergonomics can apply to any type of industry or profession, from wood mills and department stores to teachers and accountants.
Ergonomics doesn’t just apply to situations in the workforce, either. Ensuring a good fit between a job and a person is also beneficial when gardening, performing housework, or simply logging onto a computer to surf the net.
Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) develop when small amounts of strain are placed on tissues over many repetitions or for long periods of time. While improving a person’s strength and flexibility can help resolve RSIs, ultimately, the conditions creating the stress to the body need to be addressed. An RSI can easily result from poor ergonomics, and can be difficult to treat.
RSIs usually develop as a result of a worker spending a lot of the time at work in a less-than-ideal position. While every job is different, there are some general rules of ergonomics that can be applied to many different types of jobs to make them as safe as possible.
A few of the most important include:
1. Keep it close to your body
Keep whatever you’re working on as close to your body as possible. Whether it’s hammering some nails or typing at a keyboard, the further you have to reach, the more strain you are placing on your body, especially your neck and back.
2. Proper sitting posture
If your job requires a lot of sitting, you should try to keep your back straight, your arms supported by arm rests, and your hips and knees at 90 degrees with your feet on the ground.
Proper standing posture
If you’re standing all day working with items in front of you, such as at an assembly line, make sure the surface you’re working on is as close to between your waist and belly-button as possible. Having a working surface that is positioned higher or lower than this level increases strain on the body.
3. Get the right tool for the job
For example, it can be difficult to grasp a hammer with a thin handle if you have arthritis in your hands, so look for one with a larger handle diameter. The same goes for gardening and housework tools.
Making your work environment fist you, instead of the other way around, can minimize stress on your joints and reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries. Improvements to a workstation does not have to be expensive and usually requires just a few minutes of stepping back to look for things that may cause discomfort while on the job.
Source: Jeff Samyn – Physical Therapist, Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist