The term ‘ergonomics’, also known as ‘human factors’, refers to the study and principles of how repetitive movements impact the body and productivity. It involves a number of bodily systems from psychology to physiology and machinery systems from engineering to designs and processing. The goal of improving ergonomics is to reduce human error to lessen potential injuries and improve safety in the workplace. Work environments have begun to value ergonomics more and more, and many have compulsory or offer optional ergonomics training to help employees understand the risks associated with certain aspects of work, repetitive movements, and how to avoid potential injuries. This is a win-win situation for employees and their employers as workers experience less injuries and a safer workplace, while employers enjoy the benefits associated with workers that are happier, healthier, and more productive. Ergonomics applies to various work environments such as industrial, office and vehicular.
Industrial Work Environments
Industrial work environments refer to a number of locations such as factories and plants and are associated with the highest incidence of workplace accidents and resultant injuries. Industrial jobs generally involve working with heavy equipment and machinery and engaging in a lot of repetitive movement involving twists, bends, and lifting in order to fulfill daily tasks and responsibilities. Workplace environments have realized the importance of ergonomics training for employees as a means of not only improving the safety of the work environment, but also increasing the productivity of employees who are less likely to experience injury, strain, or extra exhaustion due to negative human factors.
Office Work Environments
Office work environments don’t generally involve as much heavy lifting, twisting and turning as industrial workplaces, but they do tend to involve a lot of repetitive movements like typing, focusing on screens, and sitting for long periods of time. In response to studies showing that sitting for long periods of time can be extremely damaging and make individuals less energetic and more prone to injury, human factors in the office environment focus on preventing eye strain, correct use of office equipment, and stress release.
Vehicles as Work Environments
There are many occupations that involve driving for long periods of time either personally or commercially. Training in human factors for careers involving driving involve how to stretch, prevent eye strain, sit properly, enter and exit a vehicle safely, fatigue management, and ideal vehicle preparation. Careers involving driving demand high levels of focus, sitting for long periods, responsibility, and driving ability. Employers rely on drivers to deliver their goods and services in a timely and efficient manner, and offering employees training in human factors helps ensure the safety and wellness of the drivers, as well as enhancing their driving performance and productivity.
There are a number of resources in place aimed at protecting the health and wellness of employees in a workplace. From the handling of hazardous materials to fall prevention, proper stretching, bending and lifting techniques, preventing eye strain, and the physiology of the body, human factors training empowers employees by increasing their awareness and ability to prevent injuries and undue strain to themselves. All work environments, whether industrial, office, or vehicular, pose risks if certain practices and principles involving workplace safety are not undertaken by employers and their employees. Workplace safety is an important factor that protects both the employer and the employees. Not only does improving workplace safety keep workers from experiencing the pain and inconvenience of being injured on the job, it also has immense benefits for the employer. Employers that offer training in human factors experience workers with higher levels of job satisfaction, productivity, energy, and less incidences of workplace injuries.