By Kirk Fechter, Garrison Safety Officer
Safety on the Fly Health Promotion - Ergonomics (Part 4)
The Garrison Safety Office was managing the installation’s ergonomic program, now it is Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center (KACC), Preventive Medicine. In the ’90s, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was considering adding ergonomic standards to OSHA standards.
A good analogy for ergonomics is the rug in my brand new car. Day after day, the rug looks new. But imperceptibly, there is wear every day and after a few years, there is a wear spot in the rug. Our bodies work the same way.
Ergonomics has changed for me during COVID-19. The most powerful tool that I have at work is the standing desk. I can adjust my computer keyboard up so that I can stand at work for at least 5 minutes every hour. This is a powerful health tool to get the blood moving and to change body position.
The next thing that I have is an ergonomic chair that helps with body position and supports the back to prevent injuries, which are the most common cause of worker compensation claims. A poor ergonomic setup at our work stations can create more wear and tear. I have heard the joke: The difference between an ergonomic chair and a regular chair is price, but there is value in the chair. Now that I work at home, I don't have the technology, but I can move my Notebook computer up every hour on a stand. I miss my chair since I am either on the couch or in a regular chair. The Garrison Safety Office works with vendors who accommodate the needs of the work place. There have been cases where a supervisor acquires a chair for a worker, but after a week, the chair is not suitable. We appreciate a vendor that allows a week to try out the chair and exchange it for another one.
I am gladdened that I have total control over my environment, so I keep it at a temperature that is comfortable for me. There are many reference photos of good ergonomic configurations on the web. I make sure the screen is the proper height.
According to OSHA
"Implementing an ergonomic process is effective in reducing the risk of developing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)s in high-risk industries as diverse as construction, food processing, firefighting, office jobs, healthcare, transportation and warehousing. The following are important elements of an ergonomic process:
Provide Management Support; Involve Workers; Workers can: Identify and provide important information about hazards in their workplaces; Assist in the ergonomic process by voicing their concerns and suggestions for reducing exposure to risk factors and by evaluating the changes made as a result of an ergonomic assessment.
Provide Training - Training is an important element in the ergonomic process. It ensures that workers are aware of ergonomics and its benefits, become informed about ergonomics related concerns in the workplace, and understand the importance of reporting early symptoms of MSDs.
Identify Problems -Encourage Early Reporting of MSD Symptoms - Early reporting can accelerate the job assessment and improvement process, helping to prevent or reduce the progression of symptoms, the development of serious injuries, and subsequent lost-time claims.
Implement Solutions to Control Hazards - There are many possible solutions that can be implemented to reduce, control or eliminate workplace MSDs.
Evaluate Progress - Established evaluation and corrective action procedures are required to periodically assess the effectiveness of the ergonomic process and to ensure its continuous improvement and long-term success. As an ergonomic process is first developing, assessments should include determining whether goals set for the ergonomic process have been met and determining the success of the implemented ergonomic solutions. (https://www.osha.gov/ergonomics )
Note: An ergonomic process uses the principles of a safety and health program to address MSD hazards. Such a process should be viewed as an ongoing function that is incorporated into the daily operations, rather than as an individual project."
Keep Ergonomics in mind Team Meade