What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is “the scientific study of the relationship between people and their working environment with a view to improving safety, ease of action and efficiency.”1
Goal of Ergonomics
The goal of ergonomics is to prevent ergonomics related hazards, which can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. A musculoskeletal disorder (also known as MSD) is a soft tissue injury that can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and nerves2.
Causes of MSDs
In the workplace, specific things that can cause a MSD are:
- Fixed or constrained body positions
- Continual repetition of movements
- Force concentrated on small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist
- A pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between movements
Signs and Symptoms of MSD
- Decreased range of motion
- Loss of function
- Muscle weakness
- Decreased grip strength
What can employers do?
- Identify and assess job-related MSD hazards
- Implement policies and procedures to reduce workers’ exposure to MSD hazards
- Advise and train workers on MSD hazards in their jobs and workplaces
- Encourage workers to report MSD symptoms or concerns to their employer/supervisor
- Ensure preventative measures are working through re-assessments and follow ups
What can employees do?
- Be aware of workplace health and safety policies and procedures
- Report workplace hazards (including OHSA violations) to supervisor or employer
- Know your rights to refuse unsafe work
- Ontario Ministry of Labour (2013). Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in Health Care Workplaces. Retrieved from http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_msd_healthcare.php
- Mohawk College (2012). Occupational Health and Safety. Retrieved from http://www.mohawkcollege.ca/Page4882.aspx