October is National Ergonomics Month. We recognize the importance of ergonomics in the workplace for many reasons but especially for its injury prevention superpower! Prevention is our goal so utilization of ergonomics is essential to the bigger picture. Ergonomics is a science and as such…can be complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s break it down into some easy takeaways to implement in any workplace.

Human factors and ergonomics are a combination of numerous disciplines, such as psychology, sociology, engineering, biomechanics, industrial design, physiology, anthropometry, interaction design, visual design, user experience, and user interface design. So, the exact definition varies! If we simplify it, however, it is the science of improving productivity, reducing human error, and making the workplace environment a safe and comfortable space.

So…what are a few examples?

People are different so make spaces and PPE adaptable

As humans, we come in a variety of heights and lengths. The more variable we make our workspaces, the more adaptable we can be. Make tables, desks, or workstations adaptable for height so they raise and lower. Make tools and screens mobile to raise, lower, or bring closer. Ensure you have a variety of sizes of PPE available to fit extra small to extra large.

Set some well known rules

Try out the 30-30 rule. Every 30 minutes, take 30 seconds to reverse your position, stand up, do a stretch. We can get wrapped up in our tasks, but repetition can be a hazard in job tasks whether you are working on the line or at the computer.

We are human

Ergonomic changes are often focused on the physical environment and not the psychosocial environment. Aspects like tight deadlines, lack of supervisor or co-worker support, and little control over work tasks and autonomy are risks for musculoskeletal injury as well and important to keep in mind.