Education - OnTask Inc - Ergonomics Base Knowledge

By: Ontask  09-12-2011
Keywords: Ergonomics

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) has the following definition

Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.-Unknown Author

This information will set a foundation for the scope and importance of ergonomics as it is applied to the office environment. Important ergonomic (safety) risks are explained and workstation users are reminded that they need to use their workstation properly.

What Does It Mean For You?

It means we need to look at the whole system (furniture, hardware, software, work environment, work schedule) to help fit the workstation environment to the needs of the office user.
There are internationally established standards for how a workstation should be designed to accommodate most users.
Making sure the workstation fits you well is an important start (environmental changes) but the next step is making sure you use it properly (behavioral changes)!

Below you will find a list of the Saskatchewan Ergonomics Legislation that you should be aware of.

Lifting and handling loads

78(1) An employer or contractor shall ensure, where reasonably practicable, that suitable equipment is provided and used for the handling of heavy or awkward loads.
(2) Where the use of equipment is not reasonably practicable, an employer or contractor shall take all practicable means to adapt heavy or awkward loads to facilitate lifting, holding or transporting by workers or to otherwise minimize the manual handling required.
(3) An employer or contractor shall ensure that no worker engages in the manual lifting, holding or transporting of a load that, by reason of its weight, size or shape, or by any combination of these or by reason of the frequency, speed or manner in which the load is lifted, held or transported, is likely to be injurious to the worker’s health or safety.
(4) An employer or contractor shall ensure that a worker who is to engage in the lifting, holding or transporting of loads receives appropriate training in safe methods of lifting, holding or carrying of loads.
4 Oct 96 cO-1.1 Reg 1 s78.

Standing

79(1) Where workers are required to stand for long periods in the course of their work, an employer or contractor shall provide adequate anti-fatigue mats, footrests or other suitable devices to give relief to workers.
(2) Where wet processes are used, an employer or contractor shall ensure that reasonable drainage is maintained and that false floors, platforms, mats or other dry standing places are provided, maintained and kept clean.
4 Oct 96 cO-1.1 Reg 1 s79.

Sitting

80(1) Where, in the course of their work, workers have reasonable opportunities for sitting without substantial detriment to their work, an employer or contractor shall provide and maintain for their use appropriate seating to enable the workers to sit.
(2) Where a substantial portion of any work can properly be done sitting, an employer or contractor shall provide and maintain:
(a) a seat that is suitably designed, constructed, dimensioned and supported for the worker to do the work; and
(b) where needed, a footrest that can readily and comfortably support the worker’s feet.
4 Oct 96 cO-1.1 Reg 1 s80.

Musculoskeletal injuries

81(1) In this section, “musculoskeletal injury” means an injury or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, bones or supporting vasculature that may be caused or aggravated by any of the following:
(a) repetitive motions;
(b) forceful exertions;
(c) vibration;
(d) mechanical compression;
(e) sustained or awkward postures;
(f) limitations on motion or action;
(g) other ergonomic stressors.
(2) An employer or contractor, in consultation with the committee, shall regularly review the activities at the place of employment that may cause or aggravate musculoskeletal injuries.
(3) Where a risk of musculoskeletal injury is identified, an employer or contractor shall:
(a) inform each worker who may be at risk of developing musculoskeletal injury of that risk and of the signs and common symptoms of any musculoskeletal injury associated with that worker’s work; and
(b) provide effective protection for each worker who may be at risk, which may include any of the following:
(i) providing equipment that is designed, constructed, positioned and maintained to reduce the harmful effects of an activity;
(ii) implementing appropriate work practices and procedures to reduce the harmful effects of an activity;
(iii) implementing work schedules that incorporate rest and recovery periods, changes in workload or other arrangements for alternating work to reduce the harmful effects of an activity.
(4) An employer or contractor shall ensure that workers who may be at risk of developing musculoskeletal injury are instructed in the safe performance of the worker’s work, including the use of appropriate work practices and procedures, equipment and personal protective equipment.
(5) Where a worker has symptoms of musculoskeletal injury, an employer or contractor shall:
(a) advise the worker to consult a physician or a health care professional who is registered or licensed pursuant to an Act to practise any of the healing arts; and
(b) promptly review the activities of that worker and of other workers doing similar tasks to identify any cause of the symptoms and to take corrective measures to avoid further injuries.
4 Oct 96 cO-1.1 Reg 1 s81.

Shift work and constant effort and exertion

82 Where a worker works shifts or a worker’s work demands constant and uninterrupted mental effort or constant and uninterrupted physical exertion, an employer or contractor, in consultation with the committee, shall:
(a) assess the risks to the worker’s health and safety of the worker’s work;
(b) inform the worker of the nature and extent of the risks mentioned in clause (a) and the ways to eliminate or reduce those risks.
83(1) An employer or contractor, in consultation with the committee, shall identify any tasks that involve a potentially harmful visual demand on a worker.
(2) An employer or contractor:
(a) shall take all practicable steps to reduce the harmful visual demand of those tasks;
(b) shall inform the worker of the risk of performing those tasks;
(c) shall advise the worker to consult a physician or an optometrist if any persistent vision impairment, disability or visual strain results from performing the tasks;
(d) where a worker cannot attend a consultation mentioned in clause (c) during the worker’s time off work, shall permit the worker to attend the consultation during normal working hours without loss of pay or other benefits; and
(e) where a worker cannot recover the costs of a consultation mentioned in clause (c), shall reimburse the worker for the costs of the consultation that, in the opinion of the director, are reasonable.
4 Oct 96 cO-1.1 Reg 1 s83.

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) has the following definition “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

What does it mean for you?

  • It means we need to look at the whole system (your tools, the materials that you handle frequently, your work schedule and work flow) to help make sure there is a match between the job demands and the abilities of the workforce.
  • Good work design reduces musculoskeletal injury (MSI), errors, and enhances productivity.
  • Good work design also ensures anyone (large or small) can do the job without increased risk of injury.
  • Making sure that your work fits you well (environmental changes) is important but it is just as important to make sure you use your tools and body properly (behavioral changes)!

Keywords: Ergonomics

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