How to Avoid Common Ergonomic Risks in the Workplace
Part 3: Practice Makes Perfect, Or Does It?
We’ve all heard it before: “practice makes perfect.” Whether you were learning how to spell your name, ride a bike, play the piano, or hit a homerun, the phrase “practice makes perfect” chimed through your mind with each try. The idea is that to achieve proficiency, one must repeat the skill over and over, and while this may ring true for perfection, the act of repetition in the workplace is detrimental to the well-being of your employees.
Many jobs in the manufacturing, processing and logistics sectors feature repetitive actions performed by employees for the duration of their workdays. Repetitive actions encompass any job tasks with a cycle time of less than 30 seconds, and any actions requiring a sustained or static posture.
How does this happen?
Repetition in the workplace is often derived from assembly line workplaces, where productivity is measured by a piece count at the end of the day. In these work environments employees often feel pressure to keep up with the pace of the line, causing them to act quicker, and increase their repetition rate. Imagine, the employee is performing high repetitions with their hands, the rest of their body is maintaining a static posture, requiring constant or repetitive muscle firing.
What are the consequences?
Highly repetitive job tasks are extremely fatiguing to the body. This is because, when working at a quick and continuous pace, the body is unable to receive the rest required to recover. Not only does this cause fatigue, leading to low morale and decreased productivity, but inadequate recovery time increases the risk of injury.
Additionally, static postures contribute to fatigue by way of continuous muscular effort, impeding the blood flow to the contracting muscles, causing cramping, pain, and discomfort.
What are the solutions?
Given the nature of material handling work, it is difficult to eliminate repetition from occurring in the workplace. However, we can mediate negative repercussions. Implementing job rotation, active rest breaks, and educating employees on proper stretching regimes are just some of the ways we can work to reduce the repercussions of repetition in the workplace.
In addition to these solutions, adding appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will make a positive difference. Providing each employee with MEGAComfort Personal Anti-Fatigue Mat Insoles is one step towards combatting the risks of repeated static postures. These state-of-the-art patented insoles, uniquely designed by Dr. Kevan Orvitz, utilize dual layer memory foam to provide 100 percent contact with the body, improving blood flow and increasing comfort. Improving blood flow is critical to mitigating the risks associated with repetition, increasing blood to the active muscles ensures they are provided with the nutrients required to protect the body while at work.
Clearly, the act of repetition has a role within the workplace. They key is to incorporate ergonomics to ensure enhanced safety. One thing that bears repeating is that we hope you’ve found this 3-part series informative and actionable. If you missed our previous discussions on force and posture, make sure you check them out! Can’t wait for more safety insights? We don’t blame you, view our Global Ergonomics Month page for more articles and insights!