Ergonomics in the workplaceis when you change the environment a person works in to help to suit that specific person. Ergonomics helps to reduce stress, fatigue, and musculoskeletal discomfort. Many injuries that occur in the work place are due to repetitive motion. A lot of body parts are affected by this such as the shoulders, wrist, hands, elbows, back, and neck. With Ergonomics there are ways to reduce stress on the body. When an employer realizes an employee’s limitations they can structure the job to fit that certain person.
OSHA has developed a four-pronged comprehensive approach to ergonomics in the work place. This program consists of guidelines, enforcement, outreach and assistance, and the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics. With the program OSHA has really helped ergonomics come a long way.
The first guidelines where instated on March 13, 2003. Their main focus with the first guidelines where nursing homes. The second industry that had guidelines brought about were the supermarkets in May of 2004. Guidelines for the poultry processing industry took place in September of 2004. The shipyards’ guidelines happened in May of 2008. OSHA also has a program called OSHA’s Alliance Program, which allows industries to develop their own ergonomic programs that are tailored to their exact needs.
The next step in the program is called enforcement. There are 19 General Duty Clause violations for ergonomic hazards. From January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2007 there have been 4138 inspections. Out of those 4138 inspections 1225 of them were conducted in nursing homes. Before a citation takes place the ergonomics response team must screen each case. Garment factories, meat processing, warehousing industries, garment factories, and health care all have Local Emphasis Programs and Regional Emphasis Programs that deal with ergonomic hazards. For each of OSHA’s 10 regional offices they have ergonomic coordinators. There has also been a program added to the OSHA training institute. This program teaches ergonomics enforcement and field personnel policies and procedures.
The third step in the program is outreach and assistance. In September of 2008 OSHA had 71 Strategic Partnerships. As of September of 2008 OSHA already had 19 national Alliances and 40 Regional and Area Office Alliances. There are also many other Alliance Program participants who have developed informational pieces on ergonomics. The Crane, Hoist and Monorail Alliance participants have publications dealing with sheet on safe lifting practices. In order to provide great training in ergonomics it works with many different Program participants. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee helped OSHA to develop a program dealing with safe patient handling. For more help from OSHA on ergonomics OSHA’s website has 9 eTools to help people.
The last step of OSHA’s ergonomics in the work place is the National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics. This is a 15-member National Advisory Committee on Ergonomics, called NACE. NACE has representatives dealing with medial professions, labor, legal, academia, and industry. When NACE was announced, there were more than 250 people who were nominated for NACE.