Ergonomics is the science of matching work tasks to the body. Good ergonomics promotes designs or interventions to promote safe posture and less stress acting on the body for the purpose of improving productivity and decreasing musculoskeletal injury (MSI) associated with work practices.
The guiding principles of ergonomics
There are three considerations which all work together to create a safer and more comfortable work experience. They include the interaction between:
- The worker - eg. human characteristics and capabilities
- The environment - eg. temperature, lighting, physical layout and surroundings
- The tasks - eg. pace of work, how it is set up and organized, use of equipment and tools
When people's workplace conditions and job demands match their capabilities, safety and productivity improve. If the job demands are beyond the capabilities, safety can be compromised and injuries can develop. The most common type of injury this can lead to is a Musculoskeletal Injury (MSI), which are injuries to the joints, muscles, and ligaments.
Manitoba Regulation 217/2006 Part 8 outlines the hazards that can lead to a MSI and employer responsibilities for addressing these hazards. Employers must ensure work activities are assessed, effective controls to reduce the risks are implemented, workers are made aware of the risks and trained on the controls. Implementing controls such as improving work postures or using equipment rather than manually lifting materials is the application of ergonomics.