What is an Ergonomic Assessment?
Many people ask What is an Ergonomic Assessment?
What is Ergonomics?
The definition of Ergonomics by the UK Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors (CIEHF) is:
“Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.” International Ergonomics Association
The terms ‘ergonomics’ and ‘human factors’ can be used interchangeably, although ‘ergonomics’ is often used in relation to the physical aspects of the environment, such as workstations and control panels. ‘Human factors’ is often used in relation to wider system in which people work.
Ergonomics is matching the job to the worker and the product to the user. See the HSE information about Human Factors & Ergonomics.
Human factors are environmental, organisational and job factors as well as human and individual characteristics which influence behaviour at work and can affect health and safety. Therefore it includes a range of topics:
Managing human failures, such as risk assessment and incident investigation. Procedures, training and competence. Staffing, including staffing levels, workload, supervision and contractors. Organisational change, culture and behavioural safety. Safety critical communications and shift handovers. Human factors in design, such as Control rooms, human computer interfaces (HCI). Alarm management. Lighting, thermal comfort, noise and vibration. Fatigue and shiftwork. Maintenance including inspection & testing. Also error and intelligent customer product/service information.
Current legislation such as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that the employer has a responsibility to make the workplace safe for their employees.
Apart from their legal duty, working practices that risk causing injury or prevent recovery in an injured worker affect productivity of an overall workforce.
An Ergonomic Assessment may be required in a industrial setting such as factory, where the workers may be needing to sit or stand, use a workbench, use tools. Eg assembly workbench. Or on a production line, where the task area needs to be optimal for all the workers, esepcially if they rotate tasks. The HSE website has many case study examples.
The assessment may be a general assessment to review the ergonomic for all. Or it may be for one individual who has health needs.
Also, in office settings, it applied to tasks involving computers or other devices.
DSE Risk Assessment & Workstation Ergonomic Assessment
A DSE Risk Assessment is required for each worker under the DSE Regulations. The HSE website has an Office Risk Assessment Tool. There is information about a DSE Risk Assessment and a DSE Risk Assessment Checklist.
Healthywork can offer DSE Risk Assessments for prevention and for minor aches and pains.
More than a Risk Assessment is required, when an individual has medical requirements. The Equality Act 2010 states that the employer has a responsibility to make the workplace safe for their employees and to implement Reasonable Adjustments.
In this instance we have defined this as an Ergonomic Assessment. This is a longer assessment, often within the office work setting at their own workstation, but also may be in other settings, such as factor environments.
The assessment includes time to review the medical situation with the individual. Adjustments and more detailed solutions are required. It may be that the individual’s anthropometric (body dimensions) measurements are needed for an alternative chair. It could be setting up a standing workstation is required.
See our Case Studies:
See our blog articles related to this topic:
- What is a DSE Risk Assessment?
- What is a Workstation Assessment?
- Occupational Health Assessments at work
- Mobile & Homeworking DSE Assessment
- Pain using an office chair
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See our Useful Links page which includes diagnosis specific advice from organisations which can help.