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Ergonomic Risk Assessments
How to Do Your Own MSD Risk Assessment

Why are Ergonomic Risk Assessments important and how to do your own MSD risk assessments. Download your free guide - '5 Steps to Risk Assessment' now! Related: Risk Assessments Workplace, risk assessments occupational health, risk assessment examples

What is a Risk Assessment for Ergonomics?

A risk assessment at the workplace is a careful examination of what could cause harm to people in the workplace.

Why should we do a MSD risk Assessment?

Doing a risk assessment will help employers identify the significant risks in their workplace, and prevent Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) from developing.

A good risk assessment for occupational health will help avoid accidents and computer injuries which affects the productivity of the company and increases compensation claims and higher insurance premiums.

Risk Assessments In Your Workplace

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We spend so many hours of our day working and in the past health and safety precautions were few and far between, especially in the area of ergonomics. The affects of working long term on a computer and sitting improperly at our desks takes a toll on us and our employees. This translates to companies in the form of increased sick days, medical bills and high employee turnover. For us, we suffer years of irreversible pain from computer injuries.

More importantly, the self employed person should learn how to make ergonomic risk assessments for themselves, after all, they are on their own.

Ergonomic risk assessments in the workplace must be done to ensure a healthy work environment. In fact, we recommend to get a professional risk assessment done by an ergonomics consultant routinely, say every six months.

They can identify potential occupational health risk factors or shape up any workstation which may be "slipping" from the practice of ergonomics. A happy, healthy workplace encourages good work culture, job satisfaction and hopefully productivity levels will be increased.

How To Perform Your Own Ergonomimc Risk Assessments (Workplace Occupational Health)

Here are some risk assessment examples and simple steps to performing your own ergonomic risk assessment of your workplace.

Observe Work Habits

Observe your work habits and workstations. Suss out areas which could cause potential harm by asking questions,

Is it too glaring? Do my employees deal with shadows because of the incorrect position of the overhead lighting in the office? Are there too much clutter underneath the desk?

Is the monitor not centered? Are the chairs too low for the desk? Are they working too long on the computer without taking a break?

What kind of keyboard or mouse are they using? Do the office chairs offer the right back support?

Are they sitting in a correct posture at the computer?

Are their workstations too cramped with files? You'll probably need to organize some of the files to be stored in a larger storage cabinet, away from their workstations.

Ask for Feedback

Ask your employees if they are facing any problems such as back pain, neck pain, sore wrists. Then observe their workstations to see if these problems are caused by a monitor that is too low, a chair with inadequate armrests. See Ergonomic workstations to aid your findings.

You'll also want to pay attention to which jobs pose the greatest risks and start there. Perhaps the overhead projector is much too high causing everyone who sits there in the conference room to slouch in their seat. Or perhaps the phone is placed in a position that is too far away from your receptionist causing her to overstretch her body when answering the phone.

It may also be considering which is the best way to move furniture, lift boxes etc.

Listen to their suggestions. Their suggestions could help increase awareness of ergonomics, how to make their own ergonomic risk assessments and establish good work habits.

In your feedback and suggestions ergonomic meeting, others could also learn about ergonomic exercises, and consider replacing their keyboards with an ergonomic computer keyboards, and even trying out ergonomic knee chairs to help elevate some back pain.

Consider the Most Common Activity

What is the most usual activity in your workplce? Is it typing? Packing? Lifting? Sewing?

That is because the most common activity will usually pose the most risk.

Of course, adjust your ergonomic risk assessments according to the type of workplace you have. If your employees are required to do lots of lifting, you may need to assess whether they are lifting correctly. Otherwise, they need to be trained how to do so.

Do You Take Breaks?

Assess whether you and your employees take breaks. Or take sufficient breaks. In some work cultures, getting up to get a coffee is seen as a bad thing. People who get up and walk around a lot are considered to be "slacking off". This might cause your employees to remain seated the whole day when in actuality, they need to get up and move around a bit.

If so, try to encourage a 4 minute break every 45 minutes. Encourage alternating tasks so they will not be stuck in a static muscle position for long - which is the most hazardous.

Encourage your employees to take time to stand up, stretch, and move around a little. Keeping the same position for long periods of time can make you stiff, hurt your back and make you extremely tired.

If they are on the computer all day or working with small details, they should periodically blink their eyes rapidly to keep from experiencing dry eye.



Download a Free Ergonomic Risk Assessment

Risk assessments may differ from consultant to consultants. I particularly like HSE (Health and Safety Executive) organization from the UK.

It says that risk assessment is a five stage process and involves:

looking for the hazards; deciding who might be harmed and how; evaluating the risks and deciding whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done; recording your findings and telling your employees about them; and reviewing your assessment and revising it if necessary

It even provides general advice on how to carry out a risk assessment which you can download for free here 'Five steps to risk assessment'

Do Ergonomic Risk Assessment Exercises Periodically

You'll want to perform your ergonomic risk assessment on a regular basis to catch any changes in the environment that may have occurred since your last assessment.

Work related accidents can be very costly but the other thing to keep in mind is that a happy, alert employee is the best employee.

If you would like more information on making your workplace ergonomically safe visit the following links:

  • http://www.atlasergo.com/
  • http://www.ergoworkinggroup.org/

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