What is Ergonomics?
What is Ergonomics? Ergonomics is the science of matching tools and tasks to the work environment. In other words, ergonomics tries to make your job fit you, rather than making you fit your job. The purpose of ergonomics is to reduce or eliminate injuries and illnesses that can result from stress on muscles, nerves, and joints. These types of injuries have been common to workplaces for a long time, but safety standards concerning them are new. If OSHA finds that poor ergonomics is a threat to employee wellbeing, it can cite a company for violating its duty to provide a safe and healthy workplace.
A variety of ergonomically-related injuries take place and a variety of terms exist to describe them. The most common terms used are musculoskeletal disorders or cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs). They are also known as repetitive motion or stress disorders. Whatever they're called, they account for approximately one-half of all reported workplace illnesses each year. These are technically called "illnesses" because the problems generally build up over time, rather than being the result of a single event, as in the case of an accident.
Physical problems from cumulative trauma: These usually involve pain and damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves in the back, neck, shoulders, wrists, hands, and elbows. Discomfort can be mild and periodic, or long lasting. Typical ailments include: Tendonitis, "Tennis Elbow," Trigger Finger, lower back pain, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome which causes hands and wrists to tingle or become numb, and Reynaud's Syndrome which causes fingers to become white.
Disorders can be caused by making the same motion over and over, staying in one position too long, or working in awkward positions. They also result from working with tools that don't fit the body, using a great deal of physical force, and exposure to long periods of heavy vibration.