Webster's New World Dictionary (College Edition) defines ergonomics as "the study of the problems of people in adjusting to their environment; especially the science that seeks to adapt work or working conditions to suit the individual worker."
The word "ergonomics" is from Greek: :
Ergonomics may also be thought of as the science of fitting the job to the individual worker. When there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the worker, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) can result.
Each section in this course will include a quiz question at the bottom of the page. In the last section, you'll be able to check your score and retake the quiz if desired. Be sure to answer all questions or you won't see your score. To improve your score after you get results, just go back through the sections and change your answers. Do not refresh these pages or you'll have to answer all questions again.
Ergonomics studies the various risk factors brought to a job. Listed below are three areas within which ergonomic risk factors exist.
Workers come in all shapes and sizes, each with unique attributes that present certain ergonomic risk factors to a given job. The task(s) of the job itself can present risk factors that increase the likelihood of an injury. Finally, the workplace environment, within which the worker and job exist, may also contain exposures to risk factors. We will cover each of these risk factor categories in this course.
That's a great question. Let's take a look at the factors that increase the risk of an injury. The risk for developing MSDs increases for workers who must:
The level of risk depends on how long a worker is exposed to these conditions, how often they are exposed, and the level of exposure.
When there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the worker, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), also called workplace musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), can result. MSDs affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons.
Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Exposure to these known risk factors for MSDs increases a worker's risk of injury.
MSDs represent a wide range of disorders that can differ in severity from mild periodic symptoms to severe chronic and debilitating conditions. Below is a list of examples.
Contributing factors are aspects of work tasks that can lead to fatigue, MSD symptoms and injuries, or other types of problems. These factors may be present in one or more of the tasks employees must perform to accomplish their jobs. The contributing factors you and your employees should be aware of include:
MSDs in the workplace can cause severe and debilitating symptoms that not only result in illness, but injury. Symptoms of MSDs in the workplace include:
Musculoskeletal disorders are among the most prevalent medical problems in the U.S. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musculoskeletal disorders involving the back accounted for about 40 percent of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
Often MSDs can be prevented by simple and inexpensive changes in the workplace:
Medical costs and workers' compensation claims for serious MSDs may total $15,000 to $85,000 or more. It makes sense to give serious consideration to the risk factors in your workplace and the information in this course will help you do that.
Watch So ergonomics expert Jon Cinkay from the Hospital for Special Surgery show you how to make your desk and office chair adapt to you and not the other way around. Photo: Adam Falk/The Wall Street Journal