Are you sitting comfortably?

Ergonomics is the study of how people work, what people do and how it is done to accomplish their work. It necessarily includes the tools and equipment they use and the places they work.

Why is it important?

In recent years there has been increasing attention paid to health and safety at work. Four main types of hazard have been identified:

  • Chemical
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Ergonomic

The first three hazards are relatively easy to see and understand and to deal with, but the fourth tends to be dealt with under the heading of manual handling, and that is it.

Ergonomics extends throughout the whole workplace, not just to where there is heavy lifting and carrying going on. This is why office workers are prone to various work related upper limb disorders. A poor understanding ergonomics of means that they are doing work in ways or with equipment which leads to repetitive strains upon their upper limbs. If they complain to their manager, they get rebuffed with the words “You’ve got a new adjustable office chair, adjust it to suit you!”

Most managers, let alone staff, haven’t got a clue what ergonomics is, as exemplified above.

Musculo-skeletal injuries and particularly back-ache are the biggest cause of time off work throughout industry. Billions of pounds are lost each year through sick payment, lost production, retraining of employees etc – not including sums lost through injured workers suing for compensation. If you want to make sure that your company is doing as well as it could, then you need to know more about ergonomics in the workplace.