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Ergonomics Research Paper

By sfurr004 Mar 07, 2015 1606 Words

Ergonomics – Week 5
Sandra Furr
Bashar Elkhatib
August 4, 2008
What is truly ergonomic? “…human capabilities in relationship to their work demands. Information derived from ergonomists contributes to the design and evaluation of tasks, jobs, products, environments and systems in order to make them compatible with the needs, abilities and limitations of people.” (Contributors, 2000) Ergonomics seeks to make a better match between workers’ physical capabilities and their work environment and activities. This issue affects both companies and employees. “OSHA currently has 38 active Strategic Partnerships with an emphasis on ergonomics. OSHA’s Web site features tools that address ergonomics for a number of industries and occupations, including baggage handling, beverage delivery, computer workstations, electrical contractors, grocery warehousing, health care, poultry processing and sewing.” (Labor, 2008) A couple of years ago, I experienced severe back and neck pain. I was treated with muscle relaxers and a Chiropractor. One day my manager recommended that I have the company’s Health Services nurse come visit my cubicle for an ergonomical evaluation. At that time, I had not heard of ergonomics. However, through the evaluation the nurse determined the chair needed adjustment, the location of the computer monitor, keyboard and phone were causing my back and neck pain . Modifications of these items were implemented for my work surface to be ergonomical my posture improved, I had no pressure on my back or neck. My stress level decreased, I was much more efficient and productive. “Efficiency is quite simply making something easier to do. Efficiency comes in many forms however. Reducing the strength required makes a process more physically efficient. Reducing the number of steps in a task makes it quicker (i.e. efficient) to complete.” (Adams, 2008) For approximately 15 years, the costs of work-related musculoskeletal disorders have increased from $2.9 billion to $4.5 billion resulting from workers’ compensation, medical/insurance and loss time from work. Just a few of the musculoskeletal disorders are neck and back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and repetitive motion pain. “Workplace illumination is of paramount importance in determining the employee's productivity and well-being… Variable light exerts a potential advantage in indoor office accommodations with respect to subjective mood and better vision.” (Kidlington, 2008) All of us could significantly reduce our risk of injury if we could adhere to the following ergonomic principles: All work activities should permit the worker to adopt several different, but equally healthy and safe postures. Work activities should be performed with the joints at about mid-point of their range of movement. This applies particularly to the head, trunk, and upper limbs. No one develops this sort of awareness without special training. We must learn how to observe our bodies in a new way. Any attempt to improve workplace conditions can have only limited success if this issue is ignored. Ergonomics training programs are available to help people develop the coordination of thought and physical action required to monitor and alter harmful patterns of posture and movement. It enables individuals to put ergonomic principles into practice, and thus helps them reduce their risk of developing a repetitive strain injury. Technique can be a simple and practical educational method which alerts people to ways in which they are misusing their bodies, and how their everyday habits of work may be harming them. It teaches people how to avoid work habits which create excessive amounts of repetitive work and how to reduce the amount of unnecessary muscular force they are applying to their bodies. The proper chair adjustments and chair posture are greatly influenced by the rest of the work area. In particular, the eyes can affect posture, especially if the work material is too far, low, or high. Hand positions working far from the body can also affect body position, particularly the posture of the upper back and neck. Keyboard trays allow adjustment of the height and angle of a keyboard in order to fit the person. They allow a better viewing arrangement by moving the person back from the screen or desk. However, keyboard trays can be adjusted too low, too high, or at the wrong angle, causing bent wrists. The best height for the keyboard is generally about at elbow height or lower, but nearly any height is acceptable if it is comfortable. Monitors located above eye height, requiring a worker to lean, twist, or reach (for example, looking down and sideways at a document on the desk, or reaching for a mouse) may cause neck or back pain. Conventional wisdom for monitor distance is that it should be 18-24 inches away. This is wrong.  The best distance is as far away as possible while still being able to read it clearly. Longer distances relax the eyes. Height-adjustable tables and work surfaces to fit different-size workers, or different postures for the same workers allow users to write on the same surface without slumping or hunching their shoulders reducing back pain. Tables and the work or equipment on them should be at a height where you can easily key with straight wrists and read or write without either slumping forward too much or hunching up your shoulders. There may be three different "right" heights: the right height for your forearms and shoulders (no pushing up of shoulders), the right height for your eyes and head (putting the work at a good viewing distance that avoids slumping), and the right heights for your legs (allowing you to sit the way you like, which may including crossing your legs). Footrests are often used to compensate for a chair that is too high, substituting for more appropriate measures such as lowering the chair and/or work surface. In these situations, footrests do support the legs but do not allow a full range of leg postures and the individual may find it difficult to move around the office while seated. Below is a checklist with possible solutions that is successful in preventing risk factors:  Things to look for:

Possible solutions:
Elbows aimed out
Lower work surface, Lower chair armrests, Bring chair armrests in closer Wrists bent back or forward for prolonged periods
Palm rest, Lower, raise, or change slope of the keyboard
Prolonged sitting, especially in only one posture
Greater work variety, Break schedule, Chair that supports posture change, through movement, size, or easy adjustability, Move phone and printer to the other side of the office to force standing Feet dangling, not well supported

Lower chair, Lower work surface
Frequent or prolonged leaning or reaching
Rearrange work, Bring mouse and keyboard closer to body
Forward head posture squinting
Lower monitor, Tilt monitor back, Check eyes

In conclusion, an effective ergonomics program can greatly reduce injury rates and medical costs. Ergonomics is aimed at maximizing productivity by reducing worker fatigue and discomfort, and reducing errors. Ergonomics helps employers design jobs or workplaces to match workers' capabilities and limitations. Making adjustments to protect workers need not be costly, difficult or frustrating. When setting up a work area, make sure that the space is large enough for you to spread out comfortably and allows for a full range of motion, which can be a special concern for those with especially long limbs. You should also leave plenty of room to arrange the items you use most frequently in such a way that there is no strain for you to reach them. The net result is less pain and suffering for the employee and considerable cost savings for the employer. A good chair can do wonders, as sitting is much harder on your back than it might appear to be. Make sure to keep your lower back supported, and adjust your chair so that you can easily reach your keyboard and mouse. Improperly configured monitors can cause a great deal of eyestrain, resulting in headaches and difficulty concentrating. Center your monitor in front of you at a comfortable distance, and adjust the brightness settings so that it’s easy on your eyes. Make sure to take breaks from staring at your screen, too. Common office lighting can often create a great deal of eyestrain by making your computer monitor difficult to see. Adjust your shades or lights as much as you can to reduce glare, and position your monitor at such an angle to light sources that reflection is reduced. Prevention methods like adjusting your workplace or work in such a way, that it puts less stress on hands and wrist. Even hand exercises strengthen the fingers, wrists, forearms, hands, shoulders and the neck can help to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. You can arrange you work habits so that you don't put undue stress on any part of your body. Make sure to take frequent breaks, get up and walk around, and change positions frequently so that repetitive tasks and static work won't take their tolls. Putting these solutions into place will generate enthusiasm by demonstrating to employees, supervisors and management how effective and simple ergonomics can be. Ergonomics tools and practices keep workers healthy and increase productivity, quality and employee morale. References

Adams, C. (2008). Ergo 101 What is Ergonomics? Retrieved July 3, 2008, from

Associates, A. (1988). Office Ergonomics Training. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from

Contributors, W. (2000, November 28). Ergonomics. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from

Kidlington. (2008, November). Applied Ergonomics. Retrieved August 1, 2008, from ProQuest:

Labor, U. D. (2008, March 21). OSHA Effective Ergonomics: Strategy for Success. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from

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