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Five Things to Know about Ergonomics in the Workplace

- by Christina Hryniuk

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of matching work tasks to the body. Good ergonomics introduces designs or interventions to promote safe posture and less stress on the body to help improve productivity and decrease Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI) and Musculoskeletal Disorders(MSD).

According to the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB), almost 71 percent of time loss injuries in 2018 were related to poor ergonomics such as poor working postures, repetitive motions, excessive force etc. A dramatic leap from 2015, which was at 40 percent. According to SAFE Work, that MSI claims cost almost $38 million that year.

Hazards include poor working postures, excessive physical and cognitive demands of the worker, improper height reaching zones, lighting and temperature to name a few. A major factor in MSI and MSD’s is repetition (how long, how often).



So why is knowing about ergonomics important?

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are something you should be worried about.

MSD’s slowly develop over time and the soft tissues in your body – nerves, tendons, muscles, ligaments, and joints – are most susceptible to MSD’s. Injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis (aka-tennis elbow) are key examples of MSD’s and these injuries become worse over time (repetition).

You may not take it seriously at first, but over time your discomfort will increase in severity if you keep returning to the same, strenuous activities. At some point, your body will not be able to recover. The three main factors involve force (how much you lift, push, and pull), repetition, and your body temperature. Contact stress and vibration are also common hazards that wreak havoc upon the body if left unchecked.


You need to recognise the potential risks associated with MSI hazards in your job duties

It doesn’t matter if you are a professional truck driver, dispatcher, mechanic or office employee in the Trucking industry, all workers need to be aware of the ergonomic hazards

Rotate your job tasks when possible

It helps to reduce repetitiveness and fatigue, so it goes without saying that you should be taking scheduled breaks and paying attention to fatigue levels, as these are contributing factors in how much energy you will exert in performing tasks.

If you are a manager or employer, you can implement an MSI/Ergonomics Program

As an employer you can create job descriptions that can help determine the risk factors associated with MSI/MSD’s and use it to make a decision on changes like: upgrading tools/equipment/furnishings or changing the routine involved with the tasks.

For more information on ergonomics and workplace safety training, contact us today.


 

Noise Level Assessments : When can sound be harmful in the work place?

- by Christina Hryniuk

Noise is a common health hazard in the workplace. Exposure to loud noises can cause stress. It also makes it difficult for people to talk in a workplace. Prolonged exposure to excessive levels of noise can result in permanent hearing loss. That’s why it’s important to test the levels of noise.

What high noise levels do to you

When the eardrum vibrates, it moves three tiny bones in your middle ear. This movement transmits the vibration to fluid in your inner ear. The movement of this fluid is then picked up by tiny hair cells that transfer the movement to nerves. The nerves send signals to your brain where they are recognized as sound.

Exposure to high-decibel sound for a long time can eventually damage the tiny hair cells. As a result, fewer signals are sent to the brain and you don’t hear as well because the hair cells can’t be replaced or restored. The damage is permanent.


When can sound be harmful and for how long?

It depends on the intensity of the sound. Most sounds made by people and in nature are harmless even over a long period of time. Loud sound, however, can damage your hearing after long exposure.

If people are exposed repeatedly and for long periods, sound may start to be harmful at about 80 dBA. A 10-decibel increase to 90 dBA means the sound is 10 times more intense. As sound levels increase, exposure times for workers must be reduced.

In Manitoba, a three decibel per doubling rule is used. That exposure means for every three dBA increase in the noise exposure above 85 dBA, the worker’s exposure duration must be reduced by one-half without exceeding the exposure limit.



The Use of Noise Dosimeters

During the assessment a worker will wear a noise dosimeter for their shift, which will measure their noise exposure through the day and give them their average noise exposure. A worker’s average noise exposure is used to determine if they are exposed to noise over 80 dBA.

Employers must post written reports of these assessments in a visible location at the workplace, ideally on the safety and bulletin board. All workers then must be informed and trained on the noise level they will experience at work and the hazards that presents.

Another useful feature is that they will log the noise data so when downloaded to a computer, the time history of noise can be viewed. This gives the ability to analyze when and where high noise exposures occur.

RPM Trucking Industry Safety has five dosimeters that they lend to members for noise level assessments. If you want to become a member, you must register to become SAFE Work Certified. For more information on getting certified contact us.


 

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