Ergonomics Risk Factors : How to Identify Risks and Prevent Injuries at Work

how to identify ergonomics risk factors and prevent injuries

Do you know that most of the strains and injuries related to poor ergonomics can be prevented if you can identify the ergonomics risk factors earlier on? 

​Recognizing such ergonomic risks early can help you to change the the way you work on your workstation and achieve better ergonomics. For example, making sure that your monitor screen is at the optimal height of just below your eye level will go a long way to keep you from leaning forward and developing those nasty neck and back strain.

​Types of Ergonomics Risk Factors

Let us look at the main categories of the risk factors at workplaces:

  • Awkward postures and positions (repeated/ sustained)
  • High volume task repitition
  • ​Forceful exertions

Awkward Postures

Office workers are most susceptible to this form of ergonomic risk, just from the fact that they do not adopt a good posture while working in front of their screens. Being deskbound is no excuse for not moving enough, so doing some stretchs from time to time will help to relieve the symptoms.

High Volume Task Repitition

A straightforward example will be the tasks that workers do on an assembly line. The limited scope of each worker's means that they are repeating the same set of tasks every 30 seconds or lesser.

 Another example would be data entry personnel who sit at their desks the entire day doing the same tasks.

While one can improve the efficiency of doing things when you keep doing it, it can contribute to muscoskeletal injuries.

Timely stretch breaks will be great for relief. It would be even better if the jobs can be planned in such a manner that they are rotated and not repeat the same task for prolonged periods.

Forceful Exertions

Such tasks may be required at any workplace. An example would be if you are moving something heavy from one corner to another, it is important to ensure that you use the correct technique for lifting or pushing the item to prevent injuries and strains. 

In places where such activities are part of the job, it is recommended to make use of mechanical assists, carts or powered equipment to reduce the amount of effort required and the likelihood of injuries.

Indicators of Ergonomic Risks

If you have noticed one or more of the indicators below, you are probably subjecting yourself to ergonomic risks.

The key indicators revolve around the signs of inflammation, and they are as follows:

  • Pain in the form of soreness, aching or burning sensation
  • Swelling of the affected joint
  • Redness of skin around the affected area
  • Heat  - Skin is warm to touch
  • Loss of function​ with signs such as fatigue, tingling sensation, numbness or weakness 

So now that you have a clearer idea of how to identify the ergonomic risks which you may have been exposed to, what are you going to do about it?

You do not need to have any ergonomics certification to get your act together. If your company has a ergonomic program, speak to the ergonomics consultant for advice.

Don't sit back and dismiss the pain, take steps to improve the way you work. The occasional discomfort can progess to frequent pain and sustained injury if you choose to do nothing about it.

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