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In the past few years, ergonomics has become a  “buzz” word yet there still seems to be some confusion about what ergonomics is and how proper ergonomics can contribute to a safer, more productive workplace – read on…

Ergonomics s defined as the science related to man and his work, embodying the anatomic, physiologic, and mechanical principles affecting the efficient use of human energy.

The goal of an ergonomics program in industry is to adapt the workplace to a specific worker, dependent on the job description, required tasks and physical make up of the employee performing those tasks. Two types of situations typically cause people to begin having back pain or to sustain a back injury while on the job:

For the millions of workers who use a computer during the workday, it is helpful to understand the best way to set up a computer workstation, it is helpful to understand the concept of neutral body positioning. This is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and skeletal system and reduces your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). The following are important considerations when attempting to maintain neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation:

Hands, wrists, and forearms are straight, in-line and roughly parallel to the floor. Head is level, or bent slightly forward, forward facing, and balanced. Generally it is in-line with the torso. Shoulders are relaxed and upper arms hang normally at the side of the body. Elbows stay in close to the body and are bent between 90 and 120 degrees. Feet are fully supported by the floor or a footrest may be used if the desk height is not adjustable. Back is fully supported with appropriate lumbar support when sitting vertical or leaning back slightly. Thighs and hips are supported by a well-padded seat and generally parallel to the floor. Knees are about the same height as the hips with the feet slightly forward.

Regardless of how good your working posture is, working in the same posture or sitting still for prolonged periods is not healthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day in the following ways:

Make small adjustments to your chair or backrest.
Stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso.
Stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically – you probably need to get a drink of water or take a restroom break anyway!

The Certified Ergonomic Specialists at E. Hartman & Associates, Inc. can provide ergonomic assessments for all types of jobs to assist in promoting a productive and safe workplace environment.

If you are interested in having a presentation explaining Job Analysis and Ergonomic Assessments and how and when to use these tools, please contact Evelyn Hartman, to schedule this presentation.

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