Nature of the Hazard

Ergonomics is the science of designing and arranging environments, products, and systems to fit the people who use them. It aims to optimize efficiency, comfort, and safety by considering human capabilities and limitations. In essence, it’s about creating a harmonious interaction between people and their surroundings to enhance well-being and performance.

Significance of the Hazard

Poor ergonomics can result in various musculoskeletal disorders, fatigue, and decreased productivity. When workspaces, tools, or equipment are not designed with ergonomics in mind, individuals may experience discomfort or even sustain injuries due to repetitive movements, awkward postures, inadequate workstation setups, excessive force exertion, or lack of breaks.

Risks associated with the hazard?

  1. Stationary Work Patterns: Extended periods of sitting or remaining stationary can lead to decreased blood circulation, muscle stiffness, and increased risk of cardiovascular issues.
  2. Poor Posture: Inadequate desk or chair design can lead to slouching, causing back pain and neck strain.
  3. Extended Computer Use: Improper monitor height or keyboard placement can lead to eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other repetitive strain injuries.
  4. Unsuitable Furniture: Uncomfortable or non-adjustable furniture can result in discomfort and decreased focus during long study or work sessions.
  5. Inadequate Workspace Design: Cluttered or poorly organized workspaces can contribute to inefficiency and increased stress levels.

How Can We Prevent Ergonomic Risks?

- Conduct regular ergonomic assessments to identify potential hazards. Regular ergonomic assessments are essential to proactively identify potential hazards in workspaces. Staff members are encouraged to collaborate with their managers to review their work environments. WHS&W offer an in person ergonomic assessment for staff with pre-existing medical conditions.

- Provide adjustable furniture, tools, and equipment for customization. When considering new or replacement equipment to enhance ergonomics, staff are encouraged to consult with their managers. The procurement or replacement of ergonomic furniture and tools typically involves costs allocated from the unit cost centre, rather than the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) budget. Damaged equipment can be replaced by contacting I&C.

- Offer ergonomic training on proper posture, lifting techniques, and the importance of breaks. Ergonomic training is crucial in educating staff about the significance of maintaining proper posture, correct lifting techniques, and the value of taking regular breaks. The Ergonomics101 module, available through "My Career Online," equips employees with knowledge and skills to mitigate ergonomic risks.

- Encourage and facilitate regular breaks and stretches during work. Staff members are encouraged to incorporate short breaks into their schedules, allowing time for stretching exercises or movements that alleviate tension and promote blood circulation. Information about effective stretches is available on the Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) web page.