Do you suffer from back pain, headaches, numb legs or similar job-related physical ailments? You are far from alone. Ergonomics injuries and illnesses don’t only occur among factory or warehouse workers. In fact, a very typical, yet poorly designed, office desk and chair setup can lead to fatigue, strain and injury for anyone.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an exact cost for lost time and expenses associated with musculoskeletal disorders of the upper body and lower back caused by physical factors at work is not known, but an estimate by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health assessed the cost at $13 billion annually.
This is where an industrial hygienist steps in. Industrial hygiene, according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association, is “a science and art devoted to the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, prevention and control of those environmental factors or stresses arising in or from the workplace, which may cause sickness, impaired health and well-being, or significant discomfort among workers or among citizens of the community.”
An industrial hygienist can easily identify ergonomics issues within workspaces by providing an assessment. Primary ergonomic risk factors include repetitive tasks and motions, forceful exertions and sustained or repetitive awkward postures. By having an industrial hygienist evaluate employee workspaces, deficiencies can be identified and corrective measures put in place.
One corrective measure is to implement an engineering control, which eliminates or reduces the stressors by addressing the hazard at its source. The hazard is designed out of the equipment or process or a physical barrier is put in place. Additionally, a second corrective measure is called an administrative control. Administrative controls establish safe work practices, job rotations and appropriate break periods to stretch and take time away from the work task.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace can also lead to lower employee morale and productivity, which could affect a company’s bottom line if not addressed. Other stressors industrial hygienists can evaluate are temperature extremes, poor lighting, noise and poor indoor air quality.
Whether your company must comply with OSHA standards or you are a business owner who would like to improve the health and well-being of your employees, Tioga’s industrial hygienist can perform an assessment and design a plan to implement corrective measures at your place of business. Give us a call at 901-791-2432.