Focus on Ergonomics During National Safety Month

June 01, 2017

Each June, the National Safety Council celebrates and promotes National Safety Month – a month focused on National Safety Month Logoreducing the leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road, and in our homes and communities. This year’s theme is Keep Each Other Safe and each week of the month focuses on a different safety topic including: Stand Up to Falls, Recharge to Be in Charge, and Prepare for Active Shooters.

The safety topic highlighted in week four of National Safety Month, ergonomics, should be of importance to everyone, as it applies to all of our day-to-day activities whether it is at home or in the workplace. Ergonomics, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.”
Ergonomics and back pain go hand in hand. 80% of the American population will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and an astounding 31 million Americans are experiencing low-back pain at any given time. While some symptoms of back pain are caused by underlying issues, a fair amount of back pain sufferers are in pain due to ergonomically related issues including improper lifting or poorly designed workstations. Proper ergonomics can help keep you safe on the job or at home, and can help you avoid back pain and other injuries. 
To help prevent back pain, follow these ergonomic tips:
  • Never twist or bend your back and always try to lift with your legs
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help when lifting heavy or cumbersome objects
  • Keep the object you are lifting close to your body at all times
  • Map out a pathway prior to lifting and ensure that it is free from tripping hazards or other danger
  • Ensure that you have a good grip on the item or object you are carrying
  • If possible, lighten your load or make more than one trip
To be more ergonomic in the office, follow these tips:
  • Use a chair with proper lumbar and arm support that can be adjusted for appropriate height
  • Keep your feet flat on the ground
  • Place your computer monitor or laptop at least an arm’s length away from your eyes
  • Ensure that your keyboard and mouse are at elbow height
  • Avoid slouching and the subsequent pressure it puts on your back
  • Remember the “20-20-20” rule: every twenty minutes look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds

Ergonomics and back pain play only a small role in the big picture of workplace safety and workplace injuries. For employers and employees alike, it is important to have a thorough understanding of workers’ compensation management and to create a strong safety culture to help avoid injury. Unfortunately, injury is often inevitable and workplace injury can be stressful for both the employee and the employer. Follow these three steps to help navigate a workplace injury:
  1. Report your injury to your supervisor. Prompt reporting is the first step employees and employers should be aware of when injuries occur.
  2. Appropriately fill out an incident report to file a workers’ compensation claim.
  3. If medical treatment is necessary, seek medical attention from a physician group or physician who is on your employer’s physician panel. If you employer does not have a posted and visible panel of physicians, then you may be able to pick your own doctor. Here is some helpful advice for selecting a workers’ compensation physician:
    1. Ask if the physician’s practice is experienced in treating injured workers and communicating with employers.
    2. It may also be helpful to ask if the office has a workers’ compensation case manager to better assist you and your employer during your course of treatment.
Ergonomics is an important aspect of our daily lives. Focus on ergonomics during National Safety Month and let ergonomics become habitual! It may help you avoid a preventable injury.

For more information about OAA's Work Injury Center or workers' compensation matters, please contact us