Ergonomics – What does it mean?

The word ergonomics is the study of the interaction between individuals, machines or devices in their environment that can affect their performance and productivity.

The purpose of ergonomics is to evaluate the interaction or relationship between each component to determine optimal performance. Therefore, ergonomics examines the relationship between three elements: the individual, the team, the environment, and how they can be improved.

So what, you may ask?
Ergonomics is often the focus of ‘work’ as in job performance, largely in relation to the operation of machines/equipment in the work environment. However, in view of the current economic climate, there is an increasing shift in the work environment towards self-employment activities. These activities are largely situated within the home, where there is less regulation on manual handling and movement education.

The new home office performance area needs closer monitoring through ergonomics awareness and education. This is because many self-employed people don’t see the dangers inherent in the repetitive operation of most home office equipment and systems.

The most important piece of equipment to consider is the office chair. A combination of poor postural balance through inadequate pelvic control, usually caused by lack of physical exercise, creates a cyclical pattern of chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

The environment can be improved by helping individual operating equipment, such as computer word processing:

1. Assess the individual’s environmental safety for the tasks to be performed. This will include assessment of the individual’s seating and posture, if they will be sitting for any length of time during the tasks.
2. Evaluate the general user interface of the environment to make the relationship between the individual and the task more compatible.
3. Modification of individual tasks to create more efficient methods that adapt to the characteristics of the user.
4. Change the way performance activities are organized to accommodate the physical, psychological, and social needs of the individual in the setting.

Each individual can then be helped to increase performance by assessing operating station comfort levels to reduce fatigue, prevent repetitive injuries, and create a harmonious work environment.

The human part of any environmental system must be integrated at the design stage for the effective operation of the entire system. If this is considered at a later stage, then the flow of performance may be restricted by the lack of ergonomic evaluation of the entire system in place.

What can an ergonomic assessment bring to your company?

1. Highlight areas of risk in the human environmental system, along with recommendations to improve productivity.
2. Evaluation on the comfort levels of key operators to develop a more efficient flow of energy to the operating system.
3. An evaluation of the flow of information in and out by the individual for more energy efficient strategies.

How can an Ergonomic Assessment improve your business?
1. You can increase the comfort level of key operators to improve performance and reduce productivity-sapping repetitive strain injury absenteeism.
2. Improved workstation design can reduce job demands, risk factors, repetition, and awkward static postures as they are associated with musculoskeletal injuries.
3. Changes in the geographical positions of people and teams can lead to greater harmony, as well as greater energy efficiency in the work environment.

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