A person who is a workplace manager, CEO or interested in a degree in human factors and ergonomics may want to know, “How do I make my workplace more ergonomic?” Ergonomics offer a lot of benefits to workers and employers, including higher efficiency, increased productivity and less discomfort. Understanding how to make a work environment more ergonomic allows a person to take action and reduce the rate of workplace injuries associated with repetitive and inefficient movement.
Implement Engineering Controls
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers a list of engineering controls that company owners and safety coordinators can implement in the workplace. The first step is usually an evaluation by an industrial engineer or another type of human factors or ergonomics experts. Some of the engineering controls that could be implemented after the evaluation identifies areas for improvement include the use of devices for lifting and rotating heavy objects, which could reduce a person’s risk of overexertion. Another engineering control to consider is reducing the weight of a load in order to lessen the risk of overexertion.
Set Up Administrative and Work Practice Controls
There are also administrative and work practice controls recommended by OSHA for making workspaces more ergonomic. These tips involve the establishment of efficient processes and procedures for workers. An example of a work practice control is the use of staff floaters who can provide workers with a break from a repetitive task. The floaters would do this between the employee’s scheduled breaks. Another example is a job rotation system in which workers rotate from one type of repetitive task to a different task in order to avoid doing the same thing for too long.
Make Use of Personal Protective Equipment
The third step in the process of making a workspace more ergonomic is making use of personal protective equipment. The personal protective equipment includes devices and accessories that reduce the risk of exposure to risk factors that could lead to an injury. For example, a machine that vibrates a lot could be outfitted with padding that creates a barrier between the person operating the machine and the machine itself. Another example of personal protective equipment for ergonomics is providing thermal gloves so that employees can touch hot or cold surfaces without getting injured. The thermal gloves should fit properly and allow the worker to correctly grasp items in their hands.
Refer to OSHA’s Guidelines and Stay Updated on Ergonomics Research
According to the United States Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), another way to make a workspace more ergonomic is to keep updated on ergonomics research, guidelines and best practices. To make this easier, OSHA offers a vast set of resources on its website. The website includes resources for specific types of work environments, such as baggage handling departments at airports and clothing manufacturing facilities. The resources also include guidelines for the prevention of specific types of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.
Knowing how to make a workspace more ergonomic has the potential to increase employee comfort and reduce their rates of injuries. An ergonomic workplace could also be more profitable since fewer injuries mean less absenteeism and a decrease in worker’s compensation claims. Understanding, “How do I make my workspace more ergonomic?” is a good start to taking positive actions that benefit employees and business owners alike.