You may have heard the term ‘ergonomics’ or ‘human factors’ but what does it mean? Ergonomics is a science-based discipline that brings together knowledge from other subjects such as anatomy and physiology, psychology, engineering and statistics to ensure that designs complement the strengths and abilities of people and minimise the effects of their limitations.
Ergonomics is concerned with the ‘fit’ between people and their work. It puts people first, taking account of their capabilities and limitations. Ergonomics aims to make sure that tasks, equipment, information and the environment fit each worker, rather than expecting people to adapt to a design that forces them to work in an uncomfortable, stressful or dangerous way.
At Hughes Health & Safety our qualified ergonomist will seek to understand how a product, workplace or system can be designed to suit the people who need to use it. We can provide your business with Workplace Ergonomic Assessments and Individual/Personal Risk Assessments. We can provide you with the skills through training to carry out your own Workplace Posture Assessments. The Hughes Health & Safety Ergonomist is a graduate member of the Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (CIEHF) this is the only body in the UK managing and representing this competency.
You usually don’t notice good design, unless it’s exceptionally good, because it gives us no cause to. But you do notice poor design. If you’ve ever got lost in an airport with poor signage, stared helplessly at a machine with incomprehensible instructions, cut your hands on poor packaging or sighed as you had to move things around to reach something you need, you know that a lack of ergonomic design can be incredibly frustrating. Ergonomic input at the design stage of a project gives a Project Team, designer or architect an edge that others may overlook.
Ergonomics can improve not only health and safety in your workplace but can also improve efficiency and profitability.
What we can offer:
Individual / Personal risk assessments
The workplace presents many problems and when a member of staff reports a problem which may be specific to them in the first instance or is returning to work after a sickness absence or you are employing a person with a disability; it is difficult to know how to take the matter forward. At Hughes Health & Safety we can apply 15 years experience along with a personal and sympathetic approach to any scenario. We can call to site/work location and carry out a full ergonomic risk assessment for a
- Medical condition
- Return to work
Workplace Ergonomic Risk Assessments
When there are issues in the workplace such as employee sickness and rising absence levels or an increase in workplace accidents in a particular area, it may be necessary to look in detail at how a task is carried out or how an assembly line or process is flowing. An Ergonomic Risk Assessment aims to identify potential hazards which may not always be clear without in depth analysis. To assess the fit between a person and their work, you have to consider a wide range of factors, as well as the job/task being done, these may include:
- Demands on the worker (activities, workload, work pacing, shift work and fatigue)
- Equipment (its design in terms of size, shape, controls, displays, and how appropriate it is for the task)
- Information (how it is presented, accessed, and changed)
- Physical environment (temperature, humidity, lighting, noise, vibration)
- The individual ( physical, psychological characteristics, competence)
- The organisation and social environment (teamwork, supervision, management, communication, culture)
You will find a range of physical and psychological abilities in your workforce which you may need to take into account in designing the plant and equipment they use, and the tasks they perform. By assessing people’s abilities and limitations, their jobs, equipment and working environment and the interaction between them, it is possible to design safe, effective and productive work systems.
Project Teams / Designers
Ergonomics input at the design stage
Applying simple ergonomic principals at the design stage of a project can produce immeasurable results for the end product in terms of compatibility for users and optimum placement of controls, tools and features. Place those used most often where they are easy to reach without the need to stoop, stretch or hunch. Making sure protective measures such as extraction hoods or respirators are easy and comfortable to use means they are more likely to be effective at reducing exposure to hazardous substances.
Ergonomics can help reduce the potential for ill health at work, such as aches, pains and damage to the wrists, shoulders and back, noise-induced hearing loss and work-related asthma. Considering the layout of controls and equipment at the design stage can save money, time and produce a well thought out usable workspace.
It may be useful in the long term and especially at design stages of both workplace and domestic environment/layout and in product design to consider an ergonomic approach which encompasses all aspects of the work environment. It is important to recognise the interaction of different tasks and persons throughout a work task or how a person will use an end product. You will find a range of physical and psychological abilities in any workforce which you may need to take into account in designing the plant and equipment they use, and the tasks they perform. By assessing people’s abilities and limitations, their jobs, equipment and working environment and the interaction between them, it is possible to design safe, effective and productive work systems.
A ‘holistic’ approach will consider the user at all stages of design and how the environment will impact on them both physically and mentally.
Office Workstation Risk Assessments (DSE)
Display Screen Equipment (DSE) is sometimes referred to as Visual Display Units (VDU) or Computer Workstations and includes laptops, touch-screens and other similar devices that incorporate a display screen. Any item of computer-related equipment including the computer, display, keyboard, mouse, desk and chair can be considered part of the DSE work station and the assessment must also account for the immediate work environment likely to impact the user.
As an employer you must carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of VDU and other display screen equipment workstations in compliance with the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1996. Hughes Health & Safety can complete your DSE risk assessments for all staff identified as users under the current legislation; which states a DSE user to be anyone who habitually uses DSE as a significant part of their normal work; someone using DSE continuously for periods of an hour or more on most days worked; someone who habitually uses DSE for a significant part of their work.
We can formulate a DSE Policy specifically for your business. We can identify all hazards arising from the use of your DSE and likely to cause harm. We can provide your business with sensible and effective controls and solutions to ensure your workforce remain healthy and productive in the work environment.
Your business can ensure a safe working environment by providing your employees with DSE Awareness Training and DSE Risk Assessment training for risk assessors. This can be provided as an In-house Trainer led service or through cost effective DSE e-learning courses.
Some complex ergonomic problems may require a more in-depth approach to investigate issues and identify potential solutions. Posture analysis is a useful tool to assess risk in relation to the musculoskeletal system. The foundation of any ergonomic intervention is a good assessment which does not necessarily need to complicated, but should be sufficient to identify all factors relevant to the situation.
There are a number of different ergonomic models and tools that can be applied depending on the particular scenario such as the commonly used Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA); Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA); NIOSH Equation and the MAC Tool.
In the construction industry, activities performed by workers are usually repetitive and physically demanding. Execution of such tasks in awkward postures can strain their body parts and can result in fatigue, injuries or in severe cases permanent disabilities. Training and information on good techniques and musculoskeletal disorders provides knowledge that can be applied in the workplace. When an injury occurs on site, in the factory or any workplace, posture analysis can help to find effective, targeted solutions which can speed recovery, improve work conditions and overall productivity.
Please contact us to discuss your requires with our experienced Ergonomist.
We offer a range of training course in the field of ergonomics both tutor led on your site or through the cost effective e-learning method.
- Display Screen Equipment Awareness (e-learning course)
- Assessing Display Screen Equipment (e-learning course)
- Display Screen Equipment Risk Assessor (Tutor led)
- An introduction to Ergonomics and risk assessing working posture (Tutor led)