Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)
Ergonomics Tips: How to Work in Comfort and Avoid Workplace Injury
“A total of 5,190 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. in 2016, the highest annual figure since 2008. The fatal injury rate was 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, the highest since 2010.” BLS.gov
Whether you work in an industrial plant or retail store, it is important to understand how to avoid workplace injury. Musculoskeletal injuries such as, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and bone fractures can be the result of working in awkward positions instead of your best work zone.
In order to avoid injury, it is important to perform the majority of your work tasks in your best work zone.
What is your best work zone?
Your best work zone (sometimes called the “optimal zone,” “comfort zone,” or “hand shake zone”) is the zone (or area) in which you can perform your work task while maintaining a comfortable or neutral posture. Working in this zone is less likely to cause musculoskeletal injury because you won’t be straining in any awkward positions.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created an illustration to show exactly where your preferred and best work zones are:
According to OSHA, “work is safest when lifting and reaching is performed in these zones. Working outside these work zones results in non-neutral postures that may increase the risk of injury. It is particularly important to perform heavy lifting tasks within the best work zone.”
As you do your daily work, be sure that you are working in this best work zone. You can call it your “handshake zone” as an easy way to remember or print this blog out to be sure you’re working in your best work zone.
Additionally, if you work on a work bench, assembly line, or countertop that is not in your best work zone, then you should consult with your manager or supervisor about installing height-adjustable equipment to prevent workplace injury. You may want to refer your manager to an ergonomics expert for a workplace assessment as well.
Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.
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