An essay about ergonomics at the workplace.
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Ergonomics is a relatively new scientific discipline that focuses on the design of a safe, comfortable and efficient workplace environment. The advent of ergonomics has been mainly a cost-effective answer to the financial losses encountered by several corporations because of work-related serious injuries to employee and or lower productivity.
Here, we focus on two main aspects of ergonomics: design of a safer workplace and design of a more productive workplace. In terms of safety, ergonomics focuses mostly on preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. A 2011 study estimated that work-related injuries and illnesses cost the US $250 billion per year (Leigh J.P., 2011). Among other things, ergonomics tries to eliminate injuries to the musculoskeletal system of the employee. For example, ergonomics teaches people working at shipping and receiving how to proceed when lifting heavy items. It teaches that keeping the vertebral column in a straight line and at all times minimizes risk of injuries. It also teaches how to space legs to minimize the strain put on the back.
In terms of designing more efficient work places, ergonomics introduced new office desk chairs that minimize the pressure exerted on the back. Chairs with lumbar support and backrest are not only more comfortable they also contribute to a better blood circulation through the back and the legs. The introduction of the “Get up, Stand Up” concept where employee are encouraged to avoid sitting for long hours and try working while standing up is another aspect of a more efficient workplace ergonomics. These ergonomics concepts boosts the productivity of employees, reduces their use of painkiller medicines and reduces they sick-leave hours (Healy, G.N., 2013).
I find my workplace very aware of ergonomics as I have a state-of-the-art ergonomic chair at my desk. I also have a movable computer station where I can work standing or sitting.
Leigh, J.P. (2011) Economic Burden of Occupational Injury and Illness in the United States. Volume 89, Issue 4, pages 728–772, December 2011
Genevieve N. Healy et al. (2013). Reducing sitting time in office workers: Short-term efficacy of a multicomponent intervention. Preventive Medicine, Volume 57, Issue 1, July 2013, Pages 43–48.