Ergonomics is the study of people at work. The goal of ergonomics is to prevent injury at work and promote a safe and healthy office lifestyle. Soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal disorders can be caused by many day-to-day office lifestyle factors. Some common MSDs include carpal tunnel, tendinitis, muscle strain and degenerative disc disease.

According to OSHA these injuries and disorders make up for the largest category of workplace injuries and about 33% of all worker’s compensation costs with 600,000 MSDs requiring time away from work each year. The key to sound office ergonomics is prevention of these common and costly injuries. Successful prevention comes from knowledgable employers and employees.

The first step to prevention is an understanding of what causes MSDs. These injuries occur from exposure to risk factors over a period of time. Risk factors that may cause MSDs:

  • Repetitive motions
  • Sustained or sudden exposure to force
  • Awkward postures
  • Overhead lifting
  • Frequent wrist movement

Ways To Avoid Injury

Provide ergonomic training to employees

Creating an ergonomically sound environment for employees is only part of the process. Employers should also provide ergonomics training to their employees. When employees understand the benefits of ergonomics, how to identify injuries and MSDs and why they should report an MSD early, it can be beneficial for the whole company. Through adequate training and an ergonomic workspace, employees should be able to prevent injuries. Should an injury occur, an employee should be able to identify their injury and report it to their employer.

Make your workspace ergonomically sound

With the proper training employees receive, they will know the steps to take, or ask their employer to take, to create an ergonomically sound workspace. In order to be ergonomically safe, tasks, workspaces, tools and other factors relating to office space and work, should be designed to fit the employee’s capabilities rather than expecting an employee to bend to job descriptions.

Select the correct office equipment

It is an employers responsibility to provide an ergonomic work environment for employees. Providing an ergonomic work space is key in preventing MSDs, which in turn can lessen the amount of days missed due to such disorders and injuries and increase employee productivity.

Once a prevention plan is put into place for MSDs employers and employees can make smart choices about how to create a safe, healthy and ergonomic work environment where everyone can be productive.