Work efficiency is a common problem many professionals and freelances alike are dealing with. Sometimes, you wonder why no matter what you do, your work seems mediocre or below the set standards. Likewise, when you can do a task properly, you will need to spend a lot of time and effort on it. Why can’t you perform a task well while saving time and effort? Why can’t you work efficiently? Maybe ergonomics are factors that you may have missed considering like your workplace and the way it is designed for maximum efficiency. This article will particularly talk about ergonomics.
What is ergonomics? You may have heard of the word ergonomics but fairly understood it. So here’s a definition that will help you get acquainted with the said concept. Ergonomics is the study of a worker’s efficiency in his working environment. Ergonomics comes from the Greek word “ergon” which means “work”. It also followed the word pattern for economics as it implies human productivity within his work environment. To better understand what ergonomics really is, consider the situation below:
Imagine a cramped office space and a worker who delivers packages. He will most likely be inefficient with his work when his work table is small and is not proportionate to his size. He will most likely feel choked making him uncomfortable thus inefficient. Applying ergonomics on this situation will put emphasis on designing the best workspace for the package delivery worker like making his work station bigger, with good ambiance, with better lighting and enough space to enable him to work efficiently.
Studying ergonomics will not be complete without touching the concept of ergonomic hazards. Ergonomic hazards refer to the potential physical risks to a worker caused by his work environment. Common hazards of ergonomics affect the body’s musculoskeletal system or the muscles and your posture. Improving the ergonomics of the workplace will greatly avoid the said hazards commonly caused by the following:
• The workstation’s space and area, whether it allows the worker to move freely and comfortably without bumping on anything when standing/sitting.
• The placement and condition of equipment operated by the worker. For instance, when a particular heavy equipment lacks lubrication, the worker will need to exert more effort/force to operate it. Likewise, when it is positioned in a way that is not efficient for the worker, (e.g. it is too high or too low) it will also affect the user physically. He might strain his back or have muscle cramps.
• The ventilation of the workplace is also a great hazard to the workers. When the workplace is too hot or too cold, it will not warrant efficiency from the workers. It may also make them sick.
• The workplace’s lighting greatly affects the worker’s performance too. Heavily lighted workplace may damage the eyes of the workers. The same can be said for dark working areas.
• The noise in the workplace also affects productivity. Some worker’s cannot concentrate in an environment with too much noise.
Ergonomic assessment refers to the evaluation of the workspace and how it affects the performance of the worker in a particular setting. Ergonomic assessment can be done through several ways. The most common way and probably the easiest is through a survey or a questionnaire. Questions such as the following may be used to determine whether you need to make changes in the workplace or not:
• Can you freely move in your cubicle or your work space?
• Do you see the need to improve the workplace’s ventilation?
• Are the systems at work too complicated to operate?
• Do your eyes hurt?
• Do you think the workspace is noisy?
• Are the office equipment and machines you constantly use located far away from your cubicle?
• Do you constantly bump on anything when at work?
Ergonomic designs refer to the application of effective and efficient designs on the workplace, systems and equipment to make them more worker-friendly. With improved ergonomic designs due to the ergonomic assessment performed, worker efficiency will be guaranteed. Examples of effective ergonomics designs in the workplace are as follows:
• Designs of ergonomics that encourage neutral positions. For instance, the spine must always maintain an S-curve. Make sure that chairs as well as tables allow this neutral position when workers use them.
The neck must also be aligned. A prolonged bent neck position will strain the worker’s neck. Adjust equipment that makes it possible for the worker to maintain a neutral position.
• Designs that reduce exertion of force. As much as possible, you don’t want your workers to spend too much effort in operating machines when you want them to be more productive. For instance, installing rollers on heavy machines will greatly reduce the worker’s exerted force when moving it.
• Design the workspace in a way that everything is within reach of the worker. Following this design will greatly reduce the time and effort spent on a particular job. Creating an office or cubicle work triangle will add ease and organization which are key factors in worker productivity.