Several reports have identified positive relationships between poor ergonomic work conditions and musculoskeletal disorders related to the neck, shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist, and back. Moreover, poor ergonomics can lead to headaches and migraines, and repetitive strain injuries, including tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome.
While pain is the most commonly reported symptom, musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive strain injuries can lead to numbness and tingling. In more serious cases, musculoskeletal disorders can also affect mobility and may even lead to partial paralysis. Therefore, there is a need for detecting ergonomic problems in the workplace so offices and other working spaces can be transformed into an ergonomically safe spaces for the employees.
Let's look at some proven ways to identify workplace ergonomics issues.
How Do You Find Ergonomic Issues In The Workplace?
When it comes to identifying workplace ergonomic issues, many employers may be concerned about how to find ergonomic issues in the Workplace. This section looks at three proven ways that will help you identify potential ergonomic issues at the Workplace.
1. Observe Workplace Conditions
To get started with detecting ergonomic problems in the workplace, it is important to take a closer look at the workplace conditions. The workplace conditions may vary according to the nature of the job and the industry. For example, in an office setting, you may need to observe the workplace conditions differently from an industry or workplace setting where employees are supposed to lift heavyweights.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these workplace conditions.
Office Setting/ Service Industry
In a workplace that requires most of its employees to have a desk job and work in front of the screen and sit for prolonged hours, you need to observe the working arrangement for the employees. Make sure you look at the chairs they spend most of their time at, along with the desk and screens. After all, improper posture is the leading cause of musculoskeletal disorders.
Ensure that all employees within the office have access to ergonomic office chairs as they have to spend long hours sitting in the same position. Ergonomic office chairs are designed to support the body for prolonged sitting. It helps keep your neck, shoulder, and arm muscles relaxed while supporting your lower back and hips. With an appropriate ergonomic office chair, employees can make their sitting experience more comfortable throughout the day.
Moreover, another integral piece of furniture is your desk. Ideally, the desk should be firm, so it doesn’t strain your employee's back, neck, and shoulders. While a conventional desk is a more common workplace solution, height-adjustable standing desks are becoming increasingly popular given their obvious ergonomic advantages.
The height-adjustable standing desks are the new ergonomic workspace solution. We suggest that your office incorporate height-adjustable standing desks for the employees to work comfortably and more productively all day long. The Vici Duplex Standing Desk is one of the most reliable standing desks that makes a great choice for offices. The unique standing desks feature single and double-tier standing desks with a height programmable control panel. With a durable construct and a seamless transition from standing to sitting and vice versa, the pressure-sensitive height adjustable standing desk makes a great workstation for your employees. It makes for a great investment for employees who have a work-from-home arrangement.
Apart from the chairs and the desks, you should closely observe the screen placement as improper screen placement can lead to neck and shoulder strain. Make sure that the screen is placed at least 20" inches away from the eyes, and the screen should be slightly lower than the eye level to avoid strain on the eyes.
In a workplace setting where employees are required to work in an assembly line or get involved in awkward movements, especially those done repetitively or performed using too much force, can lead to several musculoskeletal conditions, including spinal slip disc and repetitive strain injury such as tennis elbow.
In the manufacturing industry, simply observing the employees may not give you the information you need to detect ergonomic problems, which is why we suggest asking a few questions to the employees about the kind of job they have to perform. Some of the leading questions that can help you find the answer include the following.
List the kind of repetitive tasks that the employees are performing.
What kind of strenuous or repetitive activities are the employees engaged in throughout the day?
How much force is required by the employees to complete the task they are performing or the weight they are lifting?
What factors in the Workplace are producing vibrations that can affect the employees?
Collecting the answers to these questions as a survey will give you a good insight into the kind of activities that are straining the employees, which will then help you detect ergonomic problems in the Workplace and their possible solutions.
2. Encourage Early Reporting of Injuries
Another proven method of detecting ergonomic problems in the Workplace is to encourage early reporting of injuries and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders. These include injuries and disorders of the muscles, nerves, joints, tendons, cartilage, and spinal discs that arise within or due to the work setting.
Since work environment and office or industrial setting contribute significantly to several injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, it is critical to encourage all employees to report the injuries and symptoms of MSD as soon as possible so it can give an insight into the workplace environment and how the employer can contribute to make it a better place for the employees.
Several reporting tools can be used to encourage early reporting of injuries and symptoms of MSD. Employers can provide first-aid logs as well as injury and illness logs so that employees can conveniently fill in the information and let the organization know about the possible injury or symptoms that they are experiencing due to the workplace setting.
Another possible way to encourage early reporting of injuries and symptoms of MSD is to get a medical record for every sick day that the employee calls out. It serves as a way to keep a record of why employees are taking sick off days from work, which also gives insight into how the poor ergonomic conditions at the Workplace contribute to health conditions.
3. Review Injury Records
While collecting data is critical, it is often not enough alone if the data is not analyzed to identify ergonomic problems, which is why it is essential to review the injury records of the organization. Every organization, regardless of the industry, needs to review injury records and other medical records that indicate the common illnesses and health conditions experienced by the employees.
If you are an employer concerned about ergonomic problems at the Workplace, you can review the injury and illness data which will significantly help identify ergonomic problems in the Workplace. Some of the data you can review include the Injury and Illness Logs, first aid logs, workers' medical compensations, and insurance company reports.
Reviewing injury records aims to assess and diagnose MSDs resulting from inappropriate workplace conditions. Early reporting and review of the injury record followed by effective intervention can reduce the likelihood of the healthcare conditions and will improve the effectiveness of treatment for the employees while reducing the risk of disability or permanent health damage. While it is integral for the health and safety of the employees, it is also beneficial for the organization as it aids in reducing worker’s compensation claims.
By encouraging early reporting of injuries and reviewing injury records, the organization is investing in worker training to better recognize the symptoms of MSD. It encourages them to report MSD symptoms at the earliest, which enhances the prognosis of the condition.
Detecting ergonomic problems in the workplace may not always be as simple as it seems. However, observing the Workplace thoroughly and encouraging employees to recognize and report symptoms of MSD and injuries early is one of the possible ways to detect ergonomic problems in the workplace. Additionally, by reporting injury records, organizations and employers can identify patterns that will help them decide how to improve the ergonomics of the Workplace.