Happy employee = Productive workplace – What is Ergonomics and Why it is Important?
Ergonomics is a relatively new branch of science but one which is gaining momentum within employee focussed workplaces. Ergonomics relies on research carried out in many other older established scientific areas such as engineering, physiology and psychology. Over time it has become clear that when workplace systems and products are designed to consider human and environmental factors, the workplace will not only become more healthy but productive as well. This awareness of people's physical requirements resulted in the discipline of ergonomics. Within South Africa more companies are starting to establish programmes that will manage physical and cognitive ergonomics in the workplace, ensuring comfortable working conditions for employees, with a move to a hybrid working environment the definition of workplace has shifted which means that ergonomics become more important to ensure the employees are not exposed to any risk factors irrespective of where their workplace is. This trend is supported at a National level with the introduction of Ergonomic Regulations, which focus on a programme approach to manage physical and cognitive ergonomics in the workplace. The regulations, shall apply to:
· employers or self-employed persons who carry out work at a workplace which may expose any person to physical or cognitive risk factors in that workplace; and
· any person who designs, manufactures, erects, installs or supplies machinery, equipment or articles for use at work.
Why ergonomics is beneficial for both employer and employee
Studies have shown that a positive environment encourages employees to be more productive. Ergonomic-related injuries are often found in workplaces not associated with workplace injuries, like the office environment. For example, if an employee can type 40 words per minute, he or she presses an average of 14,400 keys per 8-hour day. Approximately 40g (using a force of .04N)1 of force is used to depress one key. Approximately 23 000kgs of force will be exercised by his or her fingers each day. More than 8 million people are affected by carpal tunnel syndrome each year and surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome is the second most common type of musculoskeletal surgery, with these people taking a minimum of 2 weeks off work. This time off work may be reduced or eliminated with a focus on ergonomics in the workplace.
So Why Should We Implement Ergonomics in our Workplace
We believe that some of the benefits of completing an ergonomic audit and integrating ergonomics into your workplace are:
· Decreased costs and increased productivity – less time off work for injuries means more productive time with more efficient workplaces
· Improved quality and more employee engagement – employees notice and appreciate when effort is made to improve their environment, if there is decreased discomfort this leads to increased productivity.
Most importantly, ergonomics shows your commitment to the health and wellness of your employees and healthy and happy employees are your most valuable assets.
We recommend that an ergonomics forms part of your annual labour audit that you should be conducting within the workplace on an annua basis.
For any queries regarding the above or assistance on compliance or labour audits or any other compliance needs please contact Oriole Consulting on 011 346 2422 or email@example.com