An ergonomic assessment checklist and strategies for reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and injury prevention is vital wherever people work. Your team is your company’s most valuable asset, which means they need good ergonomics. Poor ergonomics in the workplace may lead to injury risk.

Employees are at risk due to poor workstations and prolonged sitting with a poor posture in non-ergonomic chairs, too often without any training in how to avoid strain. Office workers sitting for prolonged periods can put them at increased risks of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular and heart disease.

Ergonomics assessment benefits include reducing the number of health problems, injuries and accidents, identifying improvement opportunities, increasing work productivity and morale and minimising the strain on resources.

The basics of an ergonomics assessment

Ergonomic assessments in your workplace are quite simple, though not so simple to implement. You weigh up the work environment against the way your employees interact in that environment. One aspect to look at is whether your workers are taking too many sick days, and if productivity is gradually spiralling down. It’s about your documentation methods on worker injuries, how to gather objective data on ergonomic issues and how to analyse the specifics without getting caught up in irrelevancies.

Complete a workplace history appraisal

The first step in an ergonomic workstation assessment to reduce risk factors and generate improvement ideas is carrying out a workplace history appraisal to make sure you recognise your baseline. The assessment process involves being aware of the existing data surrounding compensation claims, workplace injuries, first aid logs and reports. With an objective evaluation of your workplace ergonomics and a review of the existing data, you can pinpoint high-risk departments and activities, plus common complaints and common injuries.

Talk to your workers about problem areas

Hands-on ergonomic assessments and direct feedback from individual employees on your company’s ergonomics includes regularly walking around your workplace. An ergonomic assessment also means having a quick chat with workers about repetitive tasks and manual handling for a real-life understanding of their environment. Make notes on any problem areas you see, including a rapid upper limb assessment, workstation set up and any risk factors that would be seen through the eyes of someone outside your organisation.

By involving your employees in your assessment, you can improve the chances of support for any future changes. Encourage honest feedback. Ask such things as:

  • How would you improve your work environment if you were in charge here?
  • Do you have to perform repetitive motions for long periods?
  • Does work make you tired?
  • Do you often feel any discomfort or back pain while doing this job or after work?
  • Do you feel this is a safe workplace?
  • Do you think there’s anything we can do to make you feel safer or to increase your comfort, and energy levels at work?
  • Do you think you need good posture?
  • Would you like standing desks?

Complete a short desk risk assessment on minor complaints

Some staff are at low risk and only suffer the occasional lower back or other joint pain or headaches due to their working conditions. A short ergonomic risk checkup can make sure work desks, mice and keyboards are properly situated at the correct height and distances from the screen. An ergonomic assessment of workstation habits like posture and taking regular screen breaks should be assessed as well. These things should be rectified if possible as this is also one of many ergonomic risk factors.

Pull the information together, identify and analyse it

Once these assessments have been carried out and you have all the insights and information at your fingertips you can create a list of priorities regarding risk factors and reduction strategies. Drill down and analyse the data you had before the assessments and all the new subjective data from workers and your objective data by department and task. You can then identify important insights and chances to mitigate risks, prioritising these according to the potential for injury. You can also list areas that need short term or long term fixes.

Once you’ve finished these tasks you’ll have a thorough knowledge of the ergonomic risks in your company and you can take action to remedy them.

Get some ergonomic advice from a specialist in your industry

For corporations, there’s no point in hiring a specialist from the building industry to carry out a risk assessment with subjective and objective data. Our ergonomic assessment company has developed programs designed to provide strategies for your company’s needs; they’re not just off-the-shelf programs or one-size-fits-all and include home office health.

Corporate Work Health Australia is owned by Osteopath, Heath Williams and Physiotherapist, Wade Brennan, supported by a team of professionals comprised of Doctors, Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Nutritionists, Exercise Physiologists, Remedial Massage Therapists, Personal Trainers, Naturopaths, and Yoga and Pilates Instructors. Contact us today!