While there are many different kinds of benefits to industrial ergonomics, including financial, here are some of the specific data-backed health benefits.
First of all, why industrial ergonomics? Isn’t ergonomics the same across the board?
Well, yes and no.
While some of the standard benefits of ergonomics apply to all workplaces, industrial environments often have distinctive requirements and challenges that are specific to them. These may include:
- Heightened Safety Hazards and Requirements
- More Physically-Demanding Tasks
- Special Equipment Requirements
- Responsibility of Product Quality Control
All of these items, and any additional ones your industrial workplace may be subject to, create different ergonomics needs.
When these needs are met, they offer unique health benefits.
Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
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.),” states Ergonomics Plus. In addition, they share that MSDs are “the single largest category of workplace injuries and are responsible for almost 30% of all worker’s compensation costs,” and that MSDs can include:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Ruptured/Herniated Disc
Overall, MSDs are problems that industrial workplaces should not take lightly.
Thankfully, implementation of ergonomics can make a huge positive impact. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that “a workplace ergonomics program can aim to prevent or control injuries and illnesses by eliminating or reducing worker exposure to WMSD risk factors using engineering and administrative controls”
As OSHA puts plainly, “Work-related MSDs can be prevented. Ergonomics — fitting a job to a person — helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.”
Industrial Ergonomics Equipment
To support industrial workplaces, ergonomics equipment must be different than that of office workplaces. Here are a few distinctions of industrial ergonomics equipment for you to look for:
- Safe – Some “ergonomic” products may solve one problem, but also bring new dangers to your workplace. In the case of ergonomic tables, ones that include hydraulic actuators pose the risks of hazardous fluid leaks and height adjustment failure. When looking for an ergonomic solution, make sure it won’t create further problems.
- Easy to Use – Just because equipment is purchased and implemented doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be used. Here at LTW, we have received feedback from our electric height adjustable table customers that their staff have had hand-crank adjustable tables in the past, but never utilized the hand-crank. In contrast, electric lift systems require only the simple touch of a button for easy and effective height adjustment.
- Durable and High Quality – Must be able to withstand the normal wear and tear of an industrial environment.
- Cleanable – Industrial environments often require more thorough cleaning than office environments (whether that be due to increased grit and grime, or simply higher cleanliness requirements that are characteristic of cleanrooms).
When you’re planning for an ergonomics project, be sure to pay special attention to the requirements of your environment. While some office ergonomics options may seem less expensive up front, there is a decent chance they will need to be replaced sooner than a product that was made for that environment would.
Thanks for reading!
What do you think? Is ergonomics important in your work? Here are a couple suggestions on what to do after learning about ergonomics: