Story by Frank Gonzales
Most any work environment is likely to expose employees to ergonomic hazards, whether in a laboratory, food service, custodial, maintenance or trades, animal care, or other setting. By identifying jobs and job tasks that present ergonomic risks and implementing control strategies, our interaction with the work environment, tools and equipment improve, productivity is increased and risk for injury minimized. However, when a task, workstation, tool, piece of equipment, or other work function doesn’t fit, workers’ the risk for pain and discomfort increase, as does the risk for injury.
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society designated October as National Ergonomics Month. Ergonomics is the science that seeks to minimize or eliminate exposure to injury risk factors by designing tools, equipment, workstations and processes.
Why promote ergonomics? According to the 2016 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, overexertion injuries account for about 25 percent of all non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses costing more than $15 billion dollars. Overexertion injuries include those due to lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, throwing objects. This does not account for repetitive motion injuries, which can be seen in office workers. Focus is often on prevention of office related injuries and office ergonomics when work in other areas can create far more significant and costly injuries.
To ensure a safe workplace with a reduced employee exposure to recognized ergonomic hazards, an ergonomic evaluation is often necessary and highly recommended. You may request a free ergonomic evaluation from the CSU ergonomic program. They’ll assess any job task to determine if the tasks are safe and if changes to the workstation task, tools, or environment need to be made in order to prevent injury.
Employee participation also plays a large role in the ergonomics process at CSU. Employees are highly encouraged to become active in the ergonomics program through evaluation of their own workstation and work processes, coordination of training sessions or review of equipment and tools as well as becoming more educated and empowered to make recognizing ergonomic risks part of their daily responsibilities.
In addition to ergonomic evaluations, the CSU ergonomics program offers a variety of ergonomic related services, customized job specific training and educational sessions, product, equipment assessment and review.