Ergonomics in the Workplace

Ergonomics in the Workplace

February 01, 2024

Ergonomics in the Workplace: Enhancing Health and Safety

Injuries to the lower back, neck, and shoulder from lifting and moving material are among the most frequent and serious injuries in the workplace.

Implementing proper ergonomics is crucial for reducing these injuries. Ergonomics involves studying how daily tasks are performed and rectifying anything that may cause discomfort due to awkward postures, repetitive motion, and poor lifting techniques. Whether you work at a desk or in a warehouse, your posture and daily activities can put you at risk of experiencing pain.

Ergonomics for a Job with Movement & Lifting

Start your day by stretching your back by sitting in a chair and leaning forward as far as possible then stretch your hamstrings, and rotate your shoulders and neck through the entire range of motion.

When lifting and moving material, there are a few things to concentrate on;

  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart for good balance.
  • Bend your knees to pick up low items, do not bend at the waist.
  • Hold the object as close to your body as you can.
  • Pivot your feet when you need to place something to the side; do not twist your back.
  • Use mechanical devices whenever possible and when you use carts, dollies, hand trucks, etc. Push them, do not pull.
  • Store items off the floor so it takes less effort to retrieve them.
  • Try to avoid lifting heavy items above shoulder height.

Some industries in which employees should use these Ergonomic tips include Wholesale, Retail, Restaurants, Home Healthcare, Social Services, Hotels & Motels, Oil & Fuel Dealers, Assisted Living Facilities & Nursing Homes. 

For more information about the benefits of employee stretching, read Workplace Stretching: The Employee Benefits

Ergonomics for a Desk Job

Start your day by stretching your hands, wrists, and neck through their entire range of motion to loosen your muscles and get blood flowing to the area.

A few tips to keep in mind when working at a workstation;

  • The monitor should be placed directly in front of the employee, not off to the side. Additionally, the top of the monitor should be at roughly forehead height to keep the screen at eye level or slightly lower.
  • Shoulders should be relaxed with upper arms hanging normally at your side.
  • Elbows should be bent between 90 and 120 degrees
  • The torso should be vertical or slightly reclined with lumbar support.
  • Thighs should be roughly parallel to the floor.
  • Knees should be at the same height at the hips with feet below or slightly forward of the knees.  The feet should also be flat on the floor or resting on a footstool.

Working from home? Use the tips in Working From Home: Best Safety Practices.

Regardless of your daily tasks, throughout the day you should take a break and/or vary your routine to give your muscles and joints a rest.  If you’ve been sitting for a while, stand up or vice versa.  If you’ve been working on something detailed with your hands, walk away for a minute to stretch them out.   A little variation in those routine tasks can help prevent muscle aches and pains from harming you in the future.

For assistance on any employee safety topic please contact Ray Sullivan at (516) 306-0481 or via email at raymonds@friedlandergroup.com

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Resources: Ergonomics in the Workplace