Does your neck hurt after you get home from work? What about your back or your wrists?

You’re not alone.

Ergonomic hazards in the workplace are prevalent. Worst thing is, we usually don’t pay attention to them until it’s too late.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common ergonomic factors and ways to prevent workplace injuries. But first some…

Painful ergonomic hazard statistics

  • 86% of office workers have suffered from soreness or strain because of their office equipment.
  • According to 71% of office workers, their chair has caused them back pain at some point in time.
  • Wrist strains or injuries are attributed to their keyboard, 74% of office workers say.
  • Each year around 1.8 million workers report musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Those include back injuries, tendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Research indicates a lower level of injuries and increased productivity when employees are encouraged to take stretch breaks and are informed about proper ergonomics.
  • $45 to $54 billion yearly is the total economic burden resulting from workplace MSDs.

In the US, poor ergonomics leading to MSD injuries are responsible for 34% of all lost workdays.

What is ergonomic hazard?

Before we dive deeper, we must understand the ergonomic hazard definition. Ergonomics or human factors is the principle of design and engineering of products, systems, and processes. The goal is to increase safety, boost productivity, and reduce human error.

Ergonomics includes many disciplines, including physiology, psychology, sociology, user experience, visual design, and lots more.

You can also relate this to your home – it does matter where you position things; you wouldn’t want to have your oven far away from the kitchen, right?

In practice, the ultimate objective is to provide a safe workplace. How do we do this? We have to establish the ergo risks – where do we work – construction site, office space, etc. What is a potential threat to our surroundings?

Ultimately, the question is…

How do people get hurt at work?

You can assume that construction, excavation, demolition work, and road transport are among the industries that have the highest work injuries and hazards. You would be right.

However, office jobs have many types of physical hazards that initially remain hidden.

Think about it.

You spend most of your day sitting in a chair. You stare at a monitor for hours. You make repetitive movements, typing on the keyboard and using the mouse.

Awkward postures. Loud noises. Extreme temperatures.

Yes. Trouble lurks around every corner.

Pay attention to ergonomics in the workplace. As you know, prevention is the best medicine.

Ergonomic hazard prevention

You can avoid workplace injuries and musculoskeletal disorders by following some simple guidelines.

  1. Correct sitting posture can prevent eye strain, headache, backache, neck pain, shoulder pain, and tunnel syndrome.
  2. Movement is vital to avoid muscle stiffness. Get up every 20-30 minutes, have a quick walk around the office, and stretch your body.
  3. Organize your workstation so that everything you need is within your reach – this will eliminate excessive reaching, repetitive movement, and awkward postures.
  4. Training, involvement, and evaluation are essential in assessing ergonomic risk factors and figuring out how to deal with them. First, discuss the potential workplace hazards with your colleagues and boss – establish certain practices and rules, then evaluate them to see if any corrections are needed.

The essence is to discuss the situation with your co-workers and managers to establish the potential ergonomic issues. Afterward, collectively make a plan on how to stop injuries from happening.

Whether it’s organizing your workstations, agreeing on a work schedule that allows frequent breaks for muscle relaxation, or getting ergonomic desks and chairs for the office, it’s crucial to have established rules.

After some time, evaluate your decisions and, if necessary, make changes. Your health and safety are a number one priority, after all.

Why should you suffer from eye strain or headaches just because you’re sitting posture is wrong, or you’re staring at the screen too closely?

If anyone thinks this will cost a lot of money – it doesn’t. It can even save your business money in the long run.

Ergonomic safety benefits

  • Increases productivity;
  • Lowers worker compensation costs;
  • Reduces sick-leaves;
  • Boosts morale among employees;
  • Improves employee engagement and work quality;

What do you know? You can save money while boosting productivity and quality of work. It’s only natural since your workers will be healthier, happier, and feel safer.

You should definitely invest in ergonomic hazard prevention. It’s not only recommended for safety, but it’s also a great way of creating a better working environment.

Home office ergonomics

I feel like I should put a little extra emphasis on ergonomics at home since almost all of us have been working from home for the past year and even more.

I, myself, have been guilty of working with a very uncomfortable setup, where my laptop was positioned on a low, glass table while I was sitting on a couch, set higher. A couple of weeks later, both my wrists started to hurt, my neck and back were constantly stiff, and my eyes were getting very tired very fast.

Take my advice: don’t do this to yourself.

Instead, get a comfortable chair, invest in an ergonomic desk setup. Don’t forget to move and stretch for at least five minutes every hour. Don’t just sit on your desk and become a statue. Make sure your monitor or laptop is set at the correct height – the top of the screen should be in line with your eyes.

And don’t ignore your body signals. If some part of you starts to ache, there’s a reason for it. Listen to your body and take early measures.

Conclusion

By now, you should know all the main aspects of ergonomic hazards – how to assess the risks and prevent them.

Ergonomic factors should not ruin your working experience — quite the contrary. If you manage to adjust your working station to fit all the recommendations correctly, you can enjoy a boost in productivity and better health.

A: Examples of ergonomic hazards are: 

  • Bad posture
  • Vibration
  • Repetitive awkward movement
  • Frequent use of too much force

 

Improperly adjusted chairs and workstations

A: Some of the most common ergonomic hazards in the workplace include: direct pressure, vibration, extreme temperatures, awkward posture, noise, work stress, and static position.

A: In total, there are six main categories of ergonomic risk factors:

  1. Awkward posture
  2. Extreme temperatures
  3. Localized contact stress
  4. Forceful exertions
  5. Whole-body or segmental vibration

Repetitive motions

A: Ergonomics can be a hazard in any workplace. The potential danger comes from the fact that most ergonomic hazards are usually everyday tasks we don’t pay too much attention to. For example, if you work in an office, your sitting posture can lead to muscle pain, eye problems, headaches, etc. Working as a construction worker has the ergonomic hazards of vibrations, frequent use of excessive force, and loud noises.