What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics comes from two Greek words:

  • Ergon = Work
  • Nomos = “The Natural Law of” or “The Study of”

Literal translation: ergonomics is the natural law of work or the study of work. Just like economics is the study of money. Ergonomics is the study of work.

The formal definition is “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among human and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” International Ergonomics Association Executive Council, August 2000

The common definition is “Ergonomics is essentially fitting the workplace to the worker. The better the fit the higher the level of safety and worker efficiency.” Fitting the Task to the Human ~ Grandjean 1990

Won’t offering early intervention to everyone increase the number of personal claims becoming worker’s compensation claims?

No. Over 95% of our early intervention cases are successfully resolved and the worker is saved from developing an injury or illness. If a worker fails early intervention and a musculoskeletal disorder develops, then we have detailed notes that will protect the employer from a fraudulent or inappropriate worker’s compensation claim. People are generally more honest and forthcoming when they see us helping them. If someone is sore from weekend recreation, then they usually come and tell us that is why they are sore. If you require people to have a work-related issue to participate with the early intervention program, then people may not be as honest and forthcoming as to the source of their discomfort.

What if an injury has already occurred?

If an employee has suffered a sprain or strain, then we will evaluate them and initiate first aid treatment as per OSHA guidelines: hot/cold therapy, massage, non-rigid supports and review OTC medication guidelines.

How do you know whether an injury has occurred when the issue is cumulative trauma?

If a worker only has subjective reports (discomfort, fatigue, soreness, etc) and has no objective findings (loss of motion, loss of strength, etc), then the employee has not suffered an injury or illness but is now at increased risk to develop one.

How long are your classes?

We can customize the class time to meet the needs of our client. We recommend the following time amounts for each class:

  • Executive Training: 60 minutes
  • Production Worker Training: 45-60 minutes
  • Office Worker Training: 1-2 hours
  • Advanced Ergo Team Training: 4 hours

How many people can be in each class?

The smaller the class size, the more effective the training will be. We prefer to have no more than 10-15 people per class; however, we will do whatever our client asks.

If you give an employee an exercise, then isn’t that an OSHA recordable?

No. We give preventative exercise to help employees achieve their greatest potential and healthy work capacity. Exercise is only a recordable when it is therapeutic exercise treating a work-related injury or illness.

Should we only offer early intervention to work related issues?

We recommend offering early intervention to all your employees regardless of what is causing the problem. Many times, the cause of the problem may be unclear. It is best practice to offer this program for all employees.

What are ergonomic risk factors?

According to OSHA, there are five primary ergonomic risk factors:

  • Repetition: frequency and speed over time
  • Force: grip, pinch, lift, carry, push, pull
  • Posture: awkward or static positions
  • Contact Stress: sustained or sudden
  • Vibration: segmental hand-arm or whole body

Risk of injury depends upon duration, frequency and intensity of exposer. Most injuries are a combination of two or more primary risk factors.

There are many secondary ergonomic risk factors that can be contributing to the cause of an injury: temperature, lighting, glare,
noise, long shifts, working too many days in a row, incentive pay, and machine-paced work.

What are the primary objectives for ergonomics?

  • Prevent injuries to people at work.
  • Improve productivity.
  • Control costs of the company.

What is a musculoskeletal disorder?

An injury or illness that affects muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints, nerves or spinal discs. An injury is the result from an identifiable moment in time. An illness is from an insidious onset in which the moment of injury is unknown but is to be considered cumulative in nature.

What is the difference between preventative exercise and therapeutic exercise?

Preventative exercise is an established program and is good for most people to perform as a means of achieving a healthy level of fitness. Our business has created preventative exercise handouts, posters, booklets and videos. We have an established protocol that these are preventative exercises designed to help employees achieve their maximum healthy work capacity to decrease their risk for injury or illness. Preventative exercise is recommended to be performed on a long-term basis for a person to maintain their health and fitness.

Therapeutic exercise is a form of medical treatment prescribed by a licensed health care professional under the order of a physician. This form of exercise is designed to be temporary for a person to rehabilitate from an injury or illness. Once the injury or illness has resolved, then the therapeutic exercise is discontinued.

What type of exercise do you give to groups of employees?

We will develop job-specific and employee specific exercises for employees to maximize their healthy work capacity by improving their strength, mobility and posture. We also give guidance and recommendations on healthy living which includes cardiovascular fitness, proper nutrition, sleep and tobacco cessation.

What type of injuries are being prevented?

Musculoskeletal Disorders.

What’s the difference between early intervention and an on-site physical therapy program?

Early intervention is a prevention and wellness program that is designed to catch workers before they have an injury. Physical therapy is utilized after an injury has occurred and is under the order of a physician.

When does an employee need to see a physician?

If the employee asks to be sent to a physician, if the specialist determines the employee needs to see a physician, or if the employee does not improve with first aid.

Won’t an early intervention program cause our OSHA recordables to skyrocket?

When performed correctly, an early intervention program will drastically decrease your ergonomic injuries. We have established many programs since 2004 and each client has seen a tremendous reduction in their OSHA recordables and worker’s compensation claims.