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Office Ergonomics: Guidelines to Managers to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury

Computers have improved the workplace in many marvelous ways – but they can be a real pain in the wrist. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) have become the leading cause of injury in office environments because many jobs are almost entirely computer based. We believe RSIs are preventable and the health and safety of all staff is a shared responsibility.

RSI prevention does not have to be difficult or complex. All you really need is the ability and the will to recognize, assess and control RSI hazards in the same way you would any other hazard in the workplace.

POINT TO REMEMBER:

If you have an effective health and safety program, you already have a good foundation for preventing RSI or Musculoskeletal Disorders ( MSDs).

Establish a Foundation for Success:

A number of suggested steps for creating a foundation for a successful MSD prevention program are outlined below. These steps have been shown to be important. However, the elements listed for each step are not all inclusive, and not all elements may be required or applicable in all workplaces. Among the most important steps are management commitment, vision, leadership and worker participation.

1. Management Commitment to MSD Prevention:

Management is encouraged to:

  • Incorporate MSD prevention activities into their existing health and safety programs
  • Develop an MSD prevention policy, procedure and/or statement in consultation with the JHSC or H&S rep and communicate it to all workers
  • Define the roles of employers, managers, supervisors, JHS or H&S reps, and workers in preventing MSDs
  • Review reports of MSD hazards and take corrective action
  • Annually review the MSD prevention aspects of the overall health and safety policy and program in consultation with the JHSC or H&S rep, and
  • Report on progress of MSD prevention efforts.

2. Establish and Communicate a Process for Identifying and Controlling MSD Hazards:

Workplace parties are encouraged to:

  • Look for MSD hazards during regular workplace inspections
  • Identify MSD hazards when doing job task analysis
  • Review reports of MSD concerns and hazards during JHSC meetings
  • Establish a process for assessing MSD risk
  • Consider potential MSD hazards when making any change in the workplace
  • Ensure that all workers are aware of how MSD hazards will be identified and controlled, and
  • Create an MSD prevention plan that outlines the objectives for, methods to be used in and expectations of any MSD prevention activities implemented in the workplace.

3. Ensure Worker Participation in the MSD Prevention Process:

Workers can play an active role in the MSD prevention process by:

  • Using their experience and knowledge to recognize and assess MSD hazards and to suggest effective solutions to manage and control them
  • Participating in training to recognize the symptoms of MSDs and the work-related hazards that might contribute to their development
  • Participating in training on how to use controls that have been implemented to reduce MSD risk and regularly using these controls (e.g., new equipment, work methods, tools)
  • Being involved in planning and implementing changes to work tasks or jobs, and
  • Reporting MSD hazards, pain or discomfort, etc., to management.

4. Encourage Early Reporting and Bringing Solution Ideas Forward:

Managers and supervisors should:

  • Encourage workers to report signs or symptoms of MSDs as soon as possible
  • Receive these reports positively and take action to ensure that the workers’ pain or discomfort does not get worse, and
  • Encourage workers to look for ways to reduce MSD hazards, and for better and more productive ways to do the job.

5. Develop a Culture of Open Communication and Report on MSD Prevention Efforts:

Your MSD prevention program will be more likely to succeed if your workplace culture supports:

  • Open discussion about the hazards, and
  • Frequent communication with all workers and the JHSC or H&S rep about MSD prevention efforts.

6. Provide MSD Prevention Training for All Workers:

MSD prevention training for all workers should include:

  • The signs and symptoms of MSDs
  • How to recognize MSD hazards
  • Workplace policies and procedures for dealing with concerns related to MSDs, and
  • Information on the equipment, adjustments and procedures workers need to use or follow to reduce or eliminate their exposure to MSD hazards.

WHAT IS ERGONOMICS?

The word ergonomics comes from the Greek words ERGOS (work) and NOMOS (natural law/system). It is the application of scientific knowledge to the workplace in order to improve the well being and efficiency of both the individual and the organization.

Ergonomics can be defined as fitting the job to the worker. Not all workers are the same size and everyone has limits. Ergonomics aims to design workstations, work processes, equipment, and tools to fit you. As a worker, it is important that you know how to adjust your office workstation to suit your needs.

If a job does not fit a worker, the worker is more likely to be exposed to risk factors that may lead to musculoskeletal injury. The main ergonomic risk factors in the office include the following:

  • REPETITION: tasks or body movements carried out over and over again.
  • AWKWARD POSTURES: body positions which deviate from neutral such as twisting your neck to view your monitor or reaching to use your mouse.
  • STATIC FORCES: maintaining a position for a prolonged period of time (e.g. prolonged sitting, viewing the monitor with a bent neck, or reaching for the keyboard).

Every person responds to ergonomic risk factors in different ways. For example, one worker may have symptoms of an injury while another worker performing the same tasks may not have symptoms. Ergonomic risk factors should be identified and reduced to lower the risk of injury for all workers. Even those workers who are not experiencing pain should take ergonomics seriously to reduce the risk of developing an injury.

Purchasing Considerations:

When selecting office products, adjustability is a key feature. Even though a product may claim to be “ergonomic”, it may not suit your needs, therefore, BUYER BEWARE. You can use the information in products handbook to determine what equipment you need to make your office fit you, while learning how to appropriately set up the equipment that is currently in your office.

Training:

 

An important part of an effective ergonomics program is training and education. For improvements to be effective, employees need to be trained thoroughly and given opportunities for hands-on practice with any new tools, equipment, or work procedures. The goals for training should include a mix of the knowledge and the skills needed to work safely. Employees should always be informed of any workplace changes.

A training program should include the following individuals:

  • All affected employees
  • Engineers and maintenance personnel
  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Health care providers

The program should be designed and implemented by qualified persons. Appropriate special training should be provided for personnel responsible for administering the program. The program should be presented in a language and at a level of understanding appropriate for the individuals being trained. It should provide an overview of the potential risk of illnesses and injuries, their causes and early symptoms, the means of prevention, and treatment.

The program should also include a means for adequately evaluating its effectiveness. This might be achieved by using employee interviews, testing, and observing work practices, to determine if those who received training understand the material and the work practices to be followed.

For all kind or Ergonomics Training contact us on info@enliven.in or call us on 9880571431