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Getting Ergonomics Right at Work

Getting ergonomics right at work is so important, not only for yourself, but also for your employees health and safety. According to the HSE, last year (2020-21) 470,000 workers suffered from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, which include: 

  • Manual Handling
  • Awkward or tiring positions
  • Keyboard work
  • Repetitive movements

We would like to highlight that, workplace injuries alone cost UK businesses on average £5.2 billion a year and 28.2 million working days are lost each year. 

What is an ergonomic injury?

Ergonomic injuries are typically injuries that originate from poor human body mechanics, this could be an acute injury (occurring instantly) like picking up a heavy object awkwardly, or chronic. Chronic injuries typically occur over time and are the result of experiencing pain or discomfort for months or even years, before the injury can strike. 

Because there are so many different types of ergonomic injuries, it’s best to think of it as a wide range of specific disorders and symptoms. In the professional world, these injuries are broadly referred to as Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD).

The prevalence of MSD

We have already noted that the prevalence in the UK is massive. However many research articles have also shown that it isn’t just the UK alone with the issue. For example in 2010 a cross-sectional study investigated MSD among workers who performed manual handling in Malaysia (Sector specific : Automotive Manufacturing). It found that out of 500 participants, one third had MSD, and that the most common issue was backpain-related injuries followed by feet/ankle pain. What was interesting is that almost all injuries were caused by improper ergonomic handling techniques. Even in America where it was found that a third of all workplace injuries fell into the category of ergonomic injuries.

Most common types of Ergonomic Injuries?

  • Lower Back Pain(Chronic)

The most common type of chronic lower back injury is most commonly a direct cause of bad posture/ sitting or standing in an uncomfortable position for long periods of time. Unsupported postures can lead to your spine not being able to handle or disperse loads effectively. As a result, over time, muscles, discs and joints in your back get pushed beyond tolerable limits, causing pain. 

  • Lower Back Pain (Acute) 

This is mostly caused by mishandling techniques/ improper form while picking up a heavy object. Sprains and strains can easily occur especially when bending, twisting or awkward postures are involved.  If an effective ergonomic control is introduced, for example, learning how to lift correctly. This will help reduce the risk of injury. 

  • Neck and Shoulder injuries

Ergonomic neck and shoulder injuries can affect many employees in many industries. These types of injuries are usually due to many factors, which include poor posture while working, or awkward periods of looking up or down; these are especially prevalent in injuries that occur in the neck. Shoulder injuries on the other hand typically occur due to mishandling of lifting objects above the head.

How Can We Help? 

As health and safety experts and a leading provider of risk assessments, we can provide you with information and guidance.

We are health and safety consultants (Bristol) and we can help you minimise and prevent MSD injuries. Health and Safety regulations remind employers that they should uphold the same vigilants for employees working from home as in the office. The best thing that an employer can do, is to invest in proactive safety measures. 

If you’re an employer, and are looking for some advice, HSE have released a leaflet, where they can help you understand ergonomics in the workplace better. Simple and effective advice is also provided!

We offer some awesome training. For example, our manual handling training will help your employers learn the correct lifting techniques, to help reduce the occurrence of an MSD injury. Alternatively you could always start with an introduction to risk assessment, this will help identify any potential risks to your employers before it happens. 

At FRS Health & Safety Consultancy, we act as your company’s external health and safety department, offering advice, training and consultancy to protect you, your employees and your business. Our safety consultancy services include: 

  • Risk and  safety assessments & policies 
  • Evacuation plans
  • Inspections
  • Equipment installation & maintenance
  • Online training courses 

As experienced and accredited health and safety experts, we offer bespoke, in-person practical health and safety training for small and large businesses around Bristol, Bath and the South West. 

Want to know more about risk assessments? Get in touch with our experienced team today on 01179 866397 or info@frsafetysolutions.co.uk. 

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