Workplace Hazards Series: Ergonomic Hazards


Businessman with back pain

Ergonomic hazards are factors in your environment that can harm the musculoskeletal system. The are Injuries that are caused by strain placed on the body from ergonomic hazards and aren’t always immediately obvious, making these hazards difficult to detect. In this post from our “Workplace Hazards” series, we’ll take a look at how you can identify ergonomic hazards and remove them your workplace.

How to know if something is an Ergonomic Hazard

The severity of ergonomic hazards often depends on the level of exposure over time. Injuries sustained from these safety hazards can include anything from sore muscles to long-term illnesses. Ergonomic hazards include:

  • Improperly adjusted workstations and chairs
  • Frequent lifting
  • Poor posture
  • Awkward movements, especially if they are repetitive
  • Using too much force, especially if it’s done frequently
  • Vibration

Ergonomic hazards are often a result of the way a space is designed, meaning that planning ahead and thinking about how employees interact with their work space is crucial.

Questions to ask about Ergonomic Hazards when assessing your workplace

  • What kinds of repetitive tasks are my employees performing?
  • Have workstations and chairs been adjusted according to employee height?
  • Do our workstations encourage employees to use proper posture?
  • What kind of strenuous activities are employees engaged in throughout the day?
  • How much force are employees exerting while working?
  • Are factors in the workplace producing vibrations?

What to do once Ergonomic Safety Hazards have been identified

When ergonomic hazards are identified, it may be necessary to redesign aspects of a workspace or employee routine. Anything that could cause employees to experience long- or short-term strain should be evaluated and alterations to procedures and workspaces should be considered. If it’s determined that ergonomic hazards cannot be removed from a workplace, controls can be implemented to reduce risks that are involved.

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Administrative Vs. Engineering Controls

Engineering controls limit risk by reducing or eliminating safety hazards through physical means. Examples of engineering controls for ergonomic hazards include:

  • Breaking down tasks and weight loads to reduce the exertion necessary by employees
  • Limiting employee exertion by using equipment for heavy lifting
  • Redesigning workspaces to accommodate individuals in order to reduce strain and improve posture
  • Ensuring that all workspaces provide employees the full range of motion required to complete a task
  • Repositioning objects and surfaces such as tables in the workplace to reduce the need for reaching

Administrative controls reduce risk by changing work processes and activities in order to make them more safe. Some examples of administrative controls for ergonomic hazards are:

  • Provide employees with break periods that help to reduce short-term strain
  • Adjusting the pace of work to reduce exertion
  • Rotate employees working in repetitive or strenuous tasks, to reducing exposure
  • Store objects and tools where employees can retrieve them while maintaining neutral position
  • Label any heavy loads with their weight amount
  • Place requirements on weight loads by introducing group lifting policies

How working alone increases risks from Safety Ergonomic Hazards

Because lone workers are often away from others when injuries from ergonomic hazards take place, lone workers are going to face much more difficulty receiving help. Providing employees with a lone worker monitoring system, like SafetyLine, can help make sure that they’re safe at work whether they can call for help or not.

To learn more about how you can identify and remove safety hazards from your workplace, see the other posts in this series and download our free hazard assessment guide.

To learn how SafetyLine can help keep your employees safe at work, call 1-888-WRK-ALNE or contact us by email here.

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