Ergonomic hazards

Ergonomic hazards are physical factors in the environment that may cause musculoskeletal injuries.

Types of ergonomic hazards

The main areas of concern for ergonomic hazards include:

  • equipment layout and operation
  • lifting, pushing and pulling (manual handling)
  • lighting
  • noise
  • systems and computer programs
  • task, job and workplace design
  • workstation design and height.

Good work design

The most effective design process considers health and safety issues during the conceptual and planning phases. At this early stage you have the best chance of finding ways to design out hazards, incorporate effective risk control measures and design-in efficiencies.

For example, it could involve the design of the work, workstations as well as work systems including operational procedures, computer systems or manufacturing processes.

  • Effective design of good work considers four things: the work, work systems, the physical working environment and the workers and people within the organisation.

The work:

  • how work and individual tasks are performed including their physical, mental and emotional demands
  • duration, frequency and complexity
  • context.

The work systems support the organisational processes and activities including:

  • information
  • technology
  • business management processes
  • products and services
  • supply chains
  • people including customers and clients and other resources.

The physical working environment:

  • plant, equipment, materials and substances used
  • vehicles, buildings and structures that are workplaces.

The workers:

  • physical, emotional and mental capacities, needs and experience.

Effective work design can radically transform the workplace in ways that benefit the business, workers, clients and others in the supply chain. Failure to consider how work is designed can result in poor risk management and lost opportunities to innovate and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of work. It can also be a breach of WHS law.

Experts who can provide advice on the different aspects of the design of work include: engineers, architects, ergonomists, information and computer technology professionals, occupational hygienists, organisational psychologists, human resource professionals, occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

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