National Safety Month Week 4- Ergonomics

June 2013 National Safety Month Tips

Week 4 Jun 24-29


Ergonomics derives from two Greek words, Ergo (work) and Nomos (norms or laws). Ergonomics is a technique to optimize efficient, safe and healthful performance. It is a common sense approach to ergonomics, which our grandmothers tried to inculcate in us—“excesses are bad.” Repetitive exposures to excessive stresses without proper training or rest may result in lifting challenges, hyper- and hypothermia, hearing loss, cumulative traumas and carpal tunnel syndromes. Ergonomics improves productivity, safety and health and the quality of life. It also depends on one’s psychosocial and physical environments. It is essential that the internal bodily environment be in harmony with the external environment

Ergonomics involves designing the job environment to fit the person and is important to take into consideration at work, but also while working on projects at home. It’s about learning how to work smarter and preventing conditions such as overexertion.

Ergonomic conditions are disorders of the soft tissues, specifically of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, blood vessels and spinal discs. These conditions are often caused by factors such as:

• Overexertion while lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, reaching or stretching

• Repetitive motions

• Working in awkward positions

• Sitting or standing too long in one position

• Using excessive force

• Vibration

• Resting on sharp corners or edges

• Temperature extremes

Remember, these can occur from activities at work, such as working on an assembly line, using heavy equipment or typing on a computer. They also can result from activities at home like playing video games, helping someone move, participating in hobbies such as sewing or through home repair projects.

Know the signs

Ergonomic conditions are best dealt with when they are caught early. Common symptoms include:

• Pain

• Swelling

• Numbness

• Tingling

• Tenderness

• Clicking

• Loss of grip strength

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make sure to see your physician or an occupational physician as soon as possible to determine the cause of your pain.

Common types of injuries associated with poor ergonomic design include but not limited to:









Daily Tips for this week:

June 24: Keep your joints and muscles relaxed by stretching to increase blood flow throughout the duration of your work day.

June 25: Avoid muscle and joint cramps by periodically adjusting your seated position.

June 26: Practice ergonomics at work and home to avoid conditions such as overexertion.

June 27: If a stretch begins to hurt, ease up on the amount of stretch and quit if you can’t do it without pain.

June 28: Avoid straining your eyes at a computer by periodically taking time to close your eyes for a minute at a time and then focusing on an object at least 20 feet away.

Forearm and Wrist StretchesUse one hand to spread apart and straighten the fingers of the other hand and then stretch your wrist back gently as far as you can. Keep your elbow straight. Relax your hands.You should feel a gentle stretch in the forearm flexors, then switch direction and stretch the forearm extensors.

Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds to 1 minute. Can be done several times per day.

See more ergonomics tips visit the Safety Matters Intranet website or contact me.

Computer operators, too, may develop ergonomic injuries too including the back, neck, shoulders, hands, wrists, fingers, and eyes unless they follow ergonomic guidelines to protect themselves. Here are a few ergonomic tips to help create an ergonomic friendly office area:

· Furniture that is adjustable to fit the size of each worker

· Easy access to all necessary tools and equipment

· Seat height that allows the feet to rest flat on the floor or on a footrest

· A backrest with an adjustable lumbar support

· Armrests that are broad and cushioned

· A computer monitor placed directly in front of the worker, placed so that the user’s eyes are aligned with a point 2 to 3 inches below the top of the screen, tilted back just slightly to help prevent glare, and located an arm’s length from the user.

Ergonomic Quiz, test your knowledge

1. What type of injury is commonly associated with poor ergonomic design?

A. Concussion

B. Tendonitis

C. Broken leg

D. Congestive heart failure

2. What part of the body is affected by ergonomic disorders?

A. Skin

B. Bones

C. Soft tissues

D. Brain

3. What is an early sign of an ergonomic condition?

A. Tiredness

B. Numbness

C. Headaches

D. Sweating

4. What factors cause poor ergonomic conditions?

A. Repetitive motions

B. Working in awkward positions

C. Vibration

D. All of the above

5. Ergonomic conditions can only be caused by activities at work.

True False

Answers are:

1. B

2. C

3. B

4. D

5. False

Safety First, Safety Always!

Information from National Safety Council

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of

Ken Oswald, Safety and Security Manager for Plateau


Is your lighting keeping productivity down?

When putting together a safety program, few safety managers include the issue of lighting but they should. Insufficient or incorrect lighting can be one of the contributing factors in many health issues that are normally attributed to ergonomic issues. Headaches, neck strain, back pain can all be a result of poor posture that comes from straining to see properly in poorly lit areas.

The Industrial Accident Prevention Association’s website ( has a great form to help you identify potential problems in this area. Head to their document entitled “Lighting at work“.

It is an 8-page document that covers most of what you need to get started identifying lighting issues in the workplace. Best of all, however, is the checklist on page 7 that asks you a series of questions to be answered with “Yes” or “No”, that’ll help you find areas that need work.

Try this before you purchase another back brace and see if it makes a difference!