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Ergonomics: A Dangerously Overlooked Science
There’s a pronounced focus in the U.S. on physical wellbeing during autumn; Pain Awareness Month in September is followed by Ergonomics Awareness Month in October.
But why the back to back (pardon the pun) emphasis on how our bodies feel?
Ergonomics play a huge role in society. It has significant consequences not only on the daily lives of our country’s citizens, but also on our economy.
Let’s take a look at the importance of ergonomics, why we devote a whole month to raising awareness about it, and the role it plays in your personal life and physical well being.
What is Ergonomics, Anyway?
Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with, by definition, “designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.”
In other words, ergonomics aims to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing discomfort.
As part of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) sets standards and processes of ergonomics in order to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and workers’ risk of injury.
Musculoskeletal disorders affect muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons and result from certain actions that can be present in the workplace, such as lifting heavy items, repeated bending and reaching, pushing and pulling heavy loads, awkward body postures, and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively.
Why Ergonomics Are Important
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases, making these work-related pains one of the most frequently reported causes for lost work time.
What starts out as an ache or strain in our back from lifting boxes, or stooping over our desks, can leave us with chronic pain for the rest of our lives.
By studying the movements we make at work and how we interact with our environment and the objects within it, we can make smarter decisions and protect ourselves from permanent damage.
The 411 on Ergonomics Awareness Month
Clearly, ergonomics are an incredibly important subject: its consideration can make the difference between a lifetime of pain and carefree living. The problem is that many people are not familiar with the concept, or do not pay it enough attention.
Much like Pain Awareness Month, the goal of Ergonomics Awareness Month is to shed light on a subject that is often misunderstood and overlooked.
Ergonomics Awareness Month began in 2013 by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society to promote ergonomics through educational programming and public relations.
Ergonomics Month 2020
The COVID-19 crisis has undone a lot of the progress accomplished at workplaces across the country by initiatives like Ergonomics Awareness Month and OSHA standards. Many employees were thrown into remote work without ergonomic work setups, and ergonomics is often the last concern for employees who are still working on site.
Yet, not having a dedicated office space with a desk, chair, and monitor at the right distances can severely impact your work and your health. Improper form is detrimental to productivity, not to mention it can develop into musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome or lower back injuries
How You Can Participate
The first thing you should do in honor of Ergonomic Awareness Month is create your own perfect work environment. Tailoring your workspace to meet ergonomic standards is the most important step you can take to protect yourself from musculoskeletal disorders.
Remember, what may feel comfortable at first, is not necessarily what’s best for you! Make sure to consult guides such as the Mayo Clinic’s or the CDC’s to make sure you’re setting everything in your workspace in the optimal position for both efficiency and health.
There is a way to achieve both ergonomics and comfort, however. Learn how the BackStrong C1 is able to reduce and eliminate back pain.