Great British Ergonomic Design

Are you standing Comfortably?

An ergonomic workbench for a Packer is equivalent to an office chair for a salesperson. It’s pretty obvious that we’d get less out of our sales team if we sat them on wooden boxes…

We all know the feeling. Constant shuffling to get comfortable, the development of numb patches, and perish the thought that splinters should enter into the equation!

A correctly designed workbench will allow the user to stand up straight. You should be able to hang a plumb-line from between their shoulder blades, with a very slight bend in the neck as they concentrate on their work. This frees up the circulatory system, which means that the heart doesn’t have to use up energy to pump blood through restricted areas that are caused by the abnormal positioning of the body joints.

Anti-Fatigue mats also bring a powerful but hidden advantage to the warehouse.

They act as a cushion between the operator and the ground, which dramatically reduces the vertical load from the body on the heel and ankle joints.

University studies have found that Anti-fatigue mats are responsible for the prevention of joint stress such as ankle and knee pains, reduced lower back pain, and also a reduction in headaches due the easing of tension on the shoulders and neck. Anti-fatigue mats work by encouraging the subtle movement of the leg and calf muscles, which therefore promotes an easier flow of blood back to the heart. this relaxation of pressure on the joints allow a person to stand more comfortable for increased periods of time.

Some Advice from the Canadian Centre For Occupational Health And Safety…

How can job design reduce the effects of working in a standing position?

The basic principles of good job design for standing work are:

  • Change working positions frequently so that working in one position is of a reasonably short duration.
  • Avoid extreme bending, stretching and twisting.
  • Pace work appropriately.
  • Allow workers suitable rest periods to relax; exercises may also help.
  • Provide instruction on proper work practices and the use of rest breaks.
  • Allow workers an adjustment period when they return to work after an absence for vacation or illness so they can gradually return to a regular work pace
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    How can work practices reduce the effects of working in a standing position?

    A well-designed workplace combined with a well-designed job makes it possible to work in a balanced position without unnecessary strain on the body. Although the actual performance of the task depends on the worker (including how the worker stands, moves or lifts), work practices can make the job either safer or more hazardous. Proper education and training helps the individual work safely.

    It is important that the worker be informed of health hazards in the workplace. In fact it is a legal requirement. The worker needs to understand which body movements and positions contribute to discomfort and that the conditions causing mild discomfort can lead to chronic injury in the long term. Worker education and training should also contain information on how to adjust specific workplace layouts to the individual’s needs.

    The worker should be aware that rest periods are important elements of the work. Rest periods should be used to relax when muscles are tired, to move around when muscles are stiff, to walk when work restricts the worker’s ability to change postures or positions, and so on. The worker should also be encouraged to report discomforts experienced during work. It may result in correcting working conditions.

    All these elements – education, training, and supervision, coupled with active worker input – can result in sound work practices. It must be remembered that a well-designed job and workplace are essential to healthy and safe work. Without these, good work practices cannot be effective.