Ergonomics can be defined simply as the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing a worker’s body to fit their job. Prolonged exposure to ergonomic risk factors such as awkward postures, static postures, quick motions, force, repetition, compression or contact stress, vibration, and cold temperatures can cause damage to a worker’s body and lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
MSDs are injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and cartilage) and nervous system. They can affect nearly all tissues, including the nerves and tendon sheaths, and most frequently involve the arms and back. Examples of musculoskeletal disorders include: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries (a shoulder problem), epicondylitis (an elbow problem), trigger finger, muscle strains and low back injuries.
MSDs affect workers in almost every occupation and industry in the nation and in workplaces of all sizes. The disorders occur in jobs that involve: manual handling, manufacturing and production, heavy lifting, twisting movements, and long hours of working in awkward positions.
WEC has produced two radio and two television public service announcements (PSAs) about ergonomics. One PSA is the personal story of a certified nursing assistant who was injured by manually lifting a dementia patient and is now unable to work at a job she loved. The other PSA explains the basic concepts of ergonomics.
WEC can provide free training such as safepatient handling that deals with proper ergonomics. For more information please contact Cecelia Leto, at (609) 882-6100 ext. 308 or via email at cgilliganleto @ njwec.org (no spaces).