|Ergonomics is a term used to define the relationship between the worker and their equipment, process, material and their fellow worker, and it is further defined that this relationship must be designed to bring a level of comfort to the worker.|
Discomfort can be experienced by the worker with the absent of or poor ergonomic solutions such as;
Work Related Upper Limb Disorders that create a number of illnesses that affects the neck, shoulders, arms, elbows, wrist, hands and fingers caused by vibrating tools.
Cumulative Trauma Disorders are injuries to the muscles, nerves, hands, neck, shoulders and arms caused by forceful or awkward body movements that's repeated and frequently done over a period of time, whose other contributing factors are bad posture, poorly designed workstation, poor tool design, lighting, noise, temperature and job stress.
These problems/disorders can manifest themselves on a worksite where there are a multiple of occupational activities carried out at the same time, and can become epidemical if they are not observed or complaints heard and addressed by the safety officer on the worksite.
A careful assessment of the problem will consider the limitations and capabilities of the human body to determine the cause of the problem that the worker will experience in their occupational skill to decide on an elimination, reduction, or control measure, following the three stages below.
Recognition - will look for the source of the problem through observation of work process, design and layouts, trends in medical records, unusual behaviour, location, body motion, frequency and duration, speed, lighting, distance, environmental stressors and postures, photography and measurement.
Evaluation - gathering and assessing the information will assist to determine the cause of the problem from complaints and observed discomfort of the worker, interviews, inspections, questionnaire, and observation of job task, and analysis of job task.
Control (the hierarchy) - engineering, administration and Personal Protective Equipment.
Indicators of problems in the workplace can be observed by absenteeism, accident /investigation reports, high turnover rates, complaints, poor work quality and manual handling incidents.
The objective of ergonomics in construction is to improve the performance and efficiency of the worker that can realize the following benefits:
Morale to the workers
Reduction in injuries
Reduced loss time
Reduced medical bills
Handsome economic returns
With an assessment made of the problem, an effective program must be set up to manage and control the problem using the following steps;
Prevention and controls
Education and training.
The implementation of an effective ergonomic program for the worksite can make a significant difference with management's commitment, engineering interventions and the proper use of Personal Protection Equipment can prevent injuries and disorders.
An ergonomic program is a proactive approach to predictable problems on the worksite. Most problems are inherent in specific occupational activities and must be designed out before the start-up of the project, but per-chance problems are observed on the assessment of a task or process that may have been overlooked, solutions can be found by applying the above principles to bring a level of comfort to the worker.
The success of any construction project will depend on ergonomic considerations throughout its phases. In total, the program must achieve compatible interaction between the worker, the equipment, the process, material and the fellow worker.
Ergonomic in the Workplace was written by Mr. Anthony Allsop. He has over forty (40) years in the construction industry. SafeReps was founded in 2005 by Mr. Anthony Allsop to provide effective professional training and services to persons in the Construction and Safety Industry.