Essay Sample on Workplace Ergonomics and Hazard Assessment

Published: 2023-01-15
Essay Sample on Workplace Ergonomics and Hazard Assessment
Type of paper:  Presentation
Categories:  Management Human resources
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1706 words
15 min read


Workplace ergonomics involves designing a workstation in a way that would reduce frustration, fatigue, and avoid hurting workers while keeping in mind their capabilities and limitations. A worksite that is poorly designed leads to low productivity of workers, costly and painful injuries as well as the production of inferior quality products (Stack, Ostrom, & Wilhelmsen, 2016). Proper workplace ergonomics, therefore, not only benefits the workers about their health but also the company they work for in terms of productivity. For a company to increase its productivity and take care of health concerns of its employees, a systematic ergonomics improvement process is involved. It helps in removing the risk factors that cause musculoskeletal disorders and injuries that enables improvement of employees' performance and productivity. When improvements to the work processes are made, barriers are removed to enhance safe work performance. Employees are provided with work that they can efficiently perform within the capabilities and limitations of their bodies.

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The primary cause of workplace illness, injuries, and incidents is the failure to recognize anticipated hazards in a company. For safety professionals to identify the suitability of worksites and workstations of employees, a hazard assessment has to be conducted. A proactive and ongoing process to recognize and asses hazards at the workplace are, therefore, a critical element of adequate safety and health program.

Explanation of Ergonomic Issues Noted in the Organization

Prolonged Standing While Working

Even though standing is a normal human posture that poses no health risk, working while standing regularly can cause a lot of harm to the body. Prolonged standing might result to swelling of legs, sore feet, general muscular fatigue, stiffness in the neck, low back pain, and varicose veins among other health issues (Waters & Dick, 2015). Such complains usually raised by machine operators, salespeople, and assembly-line workers, among others. When the body is kept in an upright position for a long time, considerable muscle effort is required to support it. Prolonged standing reduces the supply of blood to the loaded muscles, and as a result, due to insufficient blood flow, the onset of fatigue is accelerated. This results in pain in leg muscles, the back a well as the neck since they are the responsible muscles for the upright posture.

The employee will suffer muscles strain as well as other discomforts. According to Halim, Omar, Saman, and Othman (2011), blood pool in the feet and legs can be caused by prolonged and frequent standing when an employee fails to relieve himself or herself by walking. This causes inflammation of the veins, which eventually turns to chronic and painful varicose veins. When an employee faces all these issues, their productivity is reduced as well as the quality of products. This negatively affects the performance of the company.

Lifting Items with Various Weights

Lifting of items is inherent to multiple occupations in the manufacturing industry. One of the leading causes of injuries in the workplace is lifting objects with heavy loads. Usually, lifting operations are performed either manually or by using lifting equipment. Both mechanical and manual lifting can pose significant risks of health symptoms or injuries to employees when not handled with care resulting in disability or sick leave.

According to Coenen et al. (2014), Bureau of Statistics reported that more than 36 percent of work injuries that resulted in missing workdays were back and shoulder injuries that were major as a result of lifting heavy weights. The most significant factors in these injuries were cumulative trauma and overexertion. Back injuries are commonly caused by twisting, bending, and turning while lifting or lowering items with heavy weights. The common hazards that are associated with manual movement of materials are sprains and strains resulting from the improper lifting of objects or lifting loads that are too heavy than the recommended weight for a specific body. Proper lifting techniques and clear planning are some of the simple measures that can be undertaken to reduce the risk of injuries and keep one safe and healthy at their worksites.

Extreme Noise

In the manufacturing industry, various equipment are used in the process at multiple stages. Some of these equipment usually produce a lot of noise that is not healthy for the employee. Exposure to too much noise can result in permanent hearing loss that can hardly be rectified by hearing aid or surgery. Short term exposure to noise can also cause a temporal change in hearing, which may go away upon leaving the noisy site. However, repeated exposure to such noise or high-level noise can lead to permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. Loud noise causes psychological and physical stress, interference with communication and concentration, reduced productivity, and also contributes to workplace injuries and accidents by hindering one's ability to hear warning signals. The effects of hearing loss resulting for noise can be adversely limiting one's ability to understand speech, hear high-frequency sounds, and impairing their ability to communicate.

Hearing loss may happen gradually and painlessly that one can hardly notice the deterioration from one day to the other. Other health problems that can be caused by constant exposure to excessive noise apart from hearing damage include elevated blood pressure, irritability, headache, fatigue, increased susceptibility to minor infections and digestive disorders.

High Level Temperatures

Extremely high temperatures in worksites usually reduce productivity and morale and increase mistakes and absenteeism by employees. According to Edwards (2018), a typical manufacturing industry loses one percent efficiency per man hour every degree whenever the temperature increases above 80 Fahrenheit. Common causes of rising temperatures at the workplace include various operations that involve high air temperatures. Heat stress in workers can be induced by high humidity, radiant heat sources, strenuous physical activities, and physical contact with hot objects. High ambient temperatures where company buildings are poorly ventilated results in high temperatures when hot air is trapped inside, especially during summer. In the United Kingdom, at midday during summer, the energy from the sun is equivalent 1000w per square meter. As a result, roofs spaces that are poorly ventilated intensively heat up to 140 Fahrenheit making the structure and air below to heat up.

The effects of high temperatures at working sites can be adverse. Impaired performance of skilled sensory-motors is one of the signs of heat fatigue that results from a high level of temperature at the workplace. An individual can experience heat stroke when the system of temperature regulation of a body fails to result in temperatures to critical levels. High temperatures can also cause nausea, headache, weakness, vertigo, giddiness, and thirst, which are all signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Manual Work

Most works in manufacturing companies are manually done. Manual handling of work can lead to cumulative disorders resulting from gradual, continuous deterioration of the musculoskeletal system. This is mainly caused by continuous lifting, holding, putting down, carrying, pulling, and pushing of loads at work site. Excessive manual work can cause harm to workers if done without a plan.

Poor Body Postures

Hazardous body postures when working is also another ergonomic issue experienced in most manufacturing industries. Most individuals perfume various tasks while in position and postures that might harm the musculoskeletal systems. Bending, squatting, and seating in certain postures might all be harmful to employees' health.

Strategies for Improving the Safety of Employees

Regular Talk about Safety with Employees

The company's management and the responsible authorities should practice to frequently talk about safety with their employees. Frequent talks about safety issues and their importance encourage discussion about ergonomic safety al supervisory, management, and employee levels. Regular talks about safety enhance inclusion, generate interest, and encourage the sharing of vital information. Talking about safety makes it look important t everybody in the worksite. The responsible personnel should organize to regularly meet with the staff to discuss health and safety issues, encourage every individual to share their thoughts and ideas on safety improvement in the workplace.

Provision of Excellent Training and Information on Health and Safety

The management should ensure they offer excellent training and information on safety to employees. Employees should be made to have knowledge, skills, and understanding of the importance of working safely so that accidents are avoided. When employees are well trained, they quickly develop good safety attitudes and prioritize safety in their daily activities. The management can as well consider offering first aid training for the employees to prepare them on the best ways of dealing with emergencies. Employees should be provided with written instructions and safe work procedures to allow them to check whenever they forget. Supervise the workers to ensure they are following the training skills and procedures, and they are performing their task properly and safely throughout. Proper training will not only protect the employees from danger but also the employer from liability in case of incidents that result in serious consequences.

Reward of Safe Performance

Reward workers who perform their duties while observing safety measure. Making a big deal about employee's safety performance by praising them loud and clear as well as giving them some presents would encourage them to continue doing the right thing. When employees who have bad attitudes and do not take safety issues seriously notice that their fellows are awarded for practicing safety measures, they will change their attitudes so that they are also recognized. Safety performance should also be made part of employees' performance appraisals so that supervisors and employees work towards safety performance to get them appraised. They will take workplace safety more seriously when they realize that it contributes to their promotions, raises, and other rewards.

Acting Promptly, Correcting Hazards and Improve Safety Conditions

Whenever the management identify hazards or they are brought to their attention by employees, they should act promptly to correct the situation. After correcting the situation, they should ensure the creation of a better and safer situation to curb the future occurrence of the same incident. The management should ensure even the minor safety measures are fixed so that they do not develop to bigger situations that might be difficult to control.

Maintaining Records

The responsible person to ensure clear and accurate records of all first aid treatments, incident investigations, inspections, as well as training activities, are well kept. The records can be used in the future and also to identify trend regarding work procedures and unsafe conditions.

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