By definition Ergonomics is nothing but the consideration of human beings in the design of the man-made objects, facilities, and environments that people use in the various aspects of their lives. The primary aims of ergonomics Is to optimize the functioning of a system by adapting it to human capacities and needs. A stone-age human in an environment using a flint stone as a knife could modify the shape of the stone fitting the hand and task. Today, a product might be designed in one country, manufactured in the second country, purchased by a wholesaler (buyer) in the third country and used by a customer in the fourth country.
The scope of Ergonomics is extremely wide and is not limited to any particular industry or application. Ergonomics comes into everything which involves people. Work systems, sports and leisure, health and safety should all embody ergonomics principles if well designed. The aim of ergonomics is to enhance and preserve human health and satisfaction and to optimize the human performance in a system perspective.
BASIC ERGONOMIC DESIGN PHILOSOPHIES
There are three basic design philosophies utilized by ergonomists as they apply anthropometric data to design for their specific population (Tayyari and Smith, 1997). Those philosophies are:-
1. Design for the average: – The problem of designing for the average is that the design may end up fitting no one, because no one is average in all dimensions. However, the design for the average philosophies is utilized for designs involving public facilities, such as park benches, bus seats, and other facilities used by a large variety of people.
2. Design for extremes: – The problem of designing extremes is the cost associated with such design philosophies. Assuming that a car seat is designed to accommodate the smallest person, would it be feasible for the largest user to use the car?
3. Design for a range: – the most common design philosophy of the ergonomists is to design for a range of the population. Atypical range of the 5th to 95th percentile of the population is used. Such a design would be expected to accommodate 90% of the design population.
Seated or standing work?
As a general rule it is best to allow operators to choose between sitting and standing positions. However, there are situations when the requirements of a job mean that it is best to specify the working position.
When seated, we generally have a more stable body position. This means that where stability is important, it is better to be seated. Other situations where operators are better seated include those when foot controls are used frequently.
Standing is generally more fatiguing than sitting since the weight of the body has to be supported. Standing work may not be appropriate for all employees and investigation of alternative working methods may be required for pregnant workers or those with restriction in normal mobility.
Standing should be specified for situations when heavy loads or forces are used or bulky loads are handled. This is because, when sitting, the strong muscle groups of the lower body cannot be used to exert force, thereby increasing the risk of injury.
If workers have to move around the workplace quite often, a standing work position is preferable as frequent moves between sitting and standing are tiring.
How we do Ergonomics Workstation Assessments?
Four basic stages in conducting a EWA are:
- selecting the job to be analyzed
- breaking the job down into a sequence of tasks
- identifying potential workplace contributing factors
- determining preventive measures to overcome adverse effects of these workplace contributing factor
The method used in EWA is to actually observe a worker actually performing the job. The major advantages of this method include that it does not rely on individual memory and that the process prompts recognition of workplace contributing factors.
For infrequently performed or new jobs, observation may not be practical. With these, one approach is to have a group of experienced workers and supervisors complete the analysis through discussion. An advantage of this method is that more people are involved allowing for a wider base of experience and promoting a more ready acceptance of the resulting work procedure. Members of the joint ergonomics or occupational safety and health committee should participate in this process.
Initial benefits from developing a EWA will become clear in the preparation stage. The analysis process may identify previously undetected workplace contributing factors and increase the job knowledge of those participating. Ergonomics awareness is raised, communication between workers and supervisors is improved, and acceptance of safe work procedures is promoted.
The completed EWA, or better still, a written work procedure based on it, can form the basis for regular contact between supervisors and workers on ergonomics. It can serve as a teaching aid for initial job training and as a briefing guide for infrequent jobs. It may be used as a standard for ergonomics inspections or observations and it will assist in completing comprehensive accident and illness investigations. Contact For Ergo Analysis….
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
- 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.
Training for affected employees should consist of both general and specific job training:
1. General Training: Employees who are potentially exposed to ergonomic hazards should be given formal instruction on the hazards associated with their jobs and with their equipment. This includes information on the varieties of CTDs, what risk factors cause or contribute to them, how to recognize and report symptoms, and how to prevent these disorders. This instruction should be repeated for each employee as necessary or at least annually.
2. Job Specific Training: New employees and reassigned employees should receive an initial orientation and hands on training prior to starting their duties. Each new hire should receive a demonstration of the proper use of and procedures for all tools and equipment. The initial training program should include the following:
- Care, use, and handling techniques for tools and equipment they might use as part of their job
- Use of special tools and equipment associated with individual work stations
- Use of appropriate guards and safety equipment, including personal protective equipment
- Use of proper lifting techniques and devices
On the job training should emphasize employee development and use of safe and efficient techniques.
3. Training for Supervisors: Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees follow safe work practices and receive appropriate training to enable them to do so. Supervisors therefore should undergo training comparable to that of the employees, and such additional training as will enable them to recognize early signs and symptoms of CTDs, to recognize hazardous work practices, to correct such practices, and to reinforce the employer’s ergonomic program, especially through ergonomic training of employees as may be needed.
4. Training for Managers: Managers should be aware of their safety and health responsibilities and should receive sufficient training pertaining to ergonomic issues at each work station and at the organizational level as a whole so that they can effectively carry out their responsibilities.
5. Training for Engineers and Maintenance Personnel: Plant engineers and maintenance personnel should be trained in the prevention and correction of ergonomic hazards through job and work station design and proper maintenance, both in general and as applied to the specific conditions of the facility.
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