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Workplace Design And Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the study of how a workplace, the equipment used there and the work environment itself can best be designed for comfort, efficiency, safety and productivity. Often we can improve our levels of comfort and productivity with relatively simple changes.

Although ergonomics is a broad field, the main areas of concern for office based workplaces and employees will relate to:

  • Workstations (sitting and standing)
  • Equipment layout and operation
  • Computer systems
  • Noise
  • Lighting
  • Thermal comfort; and
  • Maintenance tasks performed on plant items.

Where/When Will These Issues Be Relevant?

Ergonomic issues can be associated with a wide range of concerns including the physical design of workstations, workspaces, the working environment, tools, vehicles, computer programs and plant. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a common injuries resulting from employers. It can also involve cognitive processes such as those involved with workload, decision making, skilled performance and stress. There are procedures for dealing with all these issues to ensure difficulties are addressed.

Most companies attribute the high incidence of MSDs to:

  • Reduction of other types of injuries. As a result of programs focused on reducing and eliminating mechanical, electrical, and chemical hazards, MSDs are emerging as a priority issue.
  • Increased work demand on individual employees. This is typically attributed to workforce downsizing, production rate changes, cost constraints, and “doing more with less.”
  • Aging workforce. Some companies attribute their MSDs to the capabilities, conditioning, and condition of both older and younger workers.
    The bottom line is that ergonomics in the workplace is an issue that most companies must address.

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