Ergonomics for work place to prevent MSD

Ergonomics for work place to prevent MSD

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Ergonomics for work place to prevent MSD

Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding and the art of fitting the job and the workplace to workers’ needs.

A way of designing workstations, work practices and work flow to accommodate the capabilities of workers. In simple words, Ergonomic is the prevention of unwanted stress by taking some precautions as well as changes in the work appliances or working posture.

Now one question arises in mind that “Why are we reading about ergonomics? Why is it so important?”

It will be clear by getting another definition. “It explains how the working environment affects the workers. From the Greek language; Ergon = Work; Nomoi = Laws. Ergonomics means “LAWS OF WORK”.

Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) increases a worker’s risk of injury.

Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system (i.e. muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, blood vessels, etc.). Common MSDs include: Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Tendonitis, muscle / tendon strains, bad postures, Low back ache, cervical ache, etc.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are a common and costly problem for people and companies across the United States.

  • MSDs are the single largest category of workplace injuries and are responsible for almost 30% of all workers’ compensation costs.
  • S. companies spent 50 billion dollars on direct costs of MSDs in 2011.
  • Indirect costs can be up to five times the direct costs of MSDs.
  • The average MSD comes with a direct cost of almost $15,000.

This is not over yet, because of these MSD’s the efficiency of worker is also hampered. This can affect the quality or quantity of product of company which can affect the organisation’s performance indirectly.

According to a The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries reviewed 250 ergonomics case studies to reveal the impact of ergonomics on business goals like cost savings, productivity and product quality.

Statistics collected from OR-OSHA and the State of Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services indicate that “Oregon Employers spent more than $367 million in ergonomics related claims between 2001 to 2005”.

It has been always taught to us that “Prevention is better than Cure”. But do we really follow it? In a daily routine work, we stress our body physically in different manners. We work on computer for long hours. We do lift heavy weights. We do drive vehicles in a wrong posture for long hours. Somewhere unknowingly we stresses our body mechanically by doing all our routine works, which later on become a big problem. All this occupational stress can be reduced by taking some ergonomic cares in daily routine.

In the healthcare industry, “Ergonomics is defined as the science, which deals with designing the job to fit the worker, but not forcing them, to fit the job, from the physical stresses it focuses on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones”.

Ergonomics include: Designing jobs, equipment, and work tasks to fit human physical characteristics and energy limitations. It considers body dimensions, mobility, and the body’s stress behavior.

Benefits of a Workplace Ergonomics Process

Here are five of the proven benefits of a strong workplace ergonomics process:

  1. Ergonomics reduces costs. By systematically reducing ergonomic risk factors, you can prevent costly MSDs. With approximately $1 out of every $3 in workers compensation costs attributed to MSDs, this represents an opportunity for significant cost savings. Also, don’t forget that indirect costs can be up to twenty times the direct cost of an injury.
  2. Ergonomics improves productivity. The best ergonomic solutions will often improve productivity. By designing a job to allow for good posture, less exertion, fewer motions and better heights and reaches, the workstation becomes more efficient.
  3. Ergonomics improves quality. Poor ergonomics leads to frustrated and fatigued workers that don’t do their best work. When the job task is too physically taxing on the worker, they may not perform their job like they were trained. For example, an employee might not fasten a screw tight enough due to a high force requirement which could create a product quality issue.
  4. Employees notice when the company is putting forth their best efforts to ensure their health and safety. If an employee does not experience fatigue and discomfort during their workday, it can reduce turnover, decrease absenteeism, improve morale and increase employee involvement.
  5. Ergonomics creates a better safety culture. Ergonomics shows the company’s commitment to safety and health as a core value. The cumulative effect of the previous four benefits of ergonomics is a stronger safety culture for the company.

Healthy employees are your most valuable asset; creating and fostering the safety & health culture at your company will lead to better human performance for your organization.

What ergonomics we can do for our workplace.

  1. Educate the people at workplace to do work in good posture.
  2. Make them Computer smart.
  3. Provide ergonomic chairs to the office for better support and effective working for prolong hours.
  4. Soft cushions and sofas should be avoided for sitting.
  5. Encourage them to do exercises on daily routine.
  6. Train the correct way of doing physical work, like weight lifting.
  7. Provide effective and ergonomically prepared tools and gears for work to reduce the risks of MSDs.
  8. Use protective gears reduce the risk of injuries at work place.
  9. 30-30 Rule: remember to stretch at least after every 30 minutes of continuous sitting. Change the position of legs while standing; keep changing wt on both legs.
  10. Keep stretching in between working hours. Remember to stretch your arms and back.

Remember to perform exercises and do ergonomics to prevent MSD’s. “Be well to do well.”


  • Repetitive motion tasks can lead to Musculo-Skeletal Disorders (MSDs).
  • Maintain correct posture while sitting/standing/walking.
  • Use proper techniques of work.
  • Use proper and corrective gears for efficient work.
  • Stretch to “limber up” muscles before and after work.
  • Take regular breaks.

Ergonomic explains the world by saying:



Dr. Mohit

Faculty of Physiotherapy

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