Healthcare workers have one of the most challenging jobs there is. These workers are at a high risk of not only contracting sicknesses from their patients, but also of suffering chronic pain or injuries if they don’t have the right equipment. Working in the medical field typically requires a lot of physical work. Those who work in fast-paced environments, like an emergency room or who work with patients that need lots of hands-on attention, such as in a nursing home, must be especially active. Although their work will continue to be hands-on and fast-paced, a lot of the strain and stress that is put on the body of a healthcare worker can be avoided if they have the proper equipment.
What is Workplace Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the word used to describe making equipment that works correctly for a particular person or function. Ergonomics is especially essential for healthcare workers, as they require unique workstations that serve different purposes than any other typical office job. More often than not, healthcare workers are forced into awkward, twisted positions while working due to a workstation that is improperly fit for them.
Each individual has different needs, is a different size, and uses their workstations in different ways. By studying these differences, ergonomics attempts to build equipment that is equally useful for each individual. It is quite impossible to create one desk or workstation that is perfect for everyone doing any job. That is where ergonomics come into play. It considers needs that are similar and groups them in together to create tools and equipment that are both tailored to the specific job function, and adjustable for the individual’s needs.
Ergonomic Risk Factors
Ergonomic risk factors are tasks that create biomechanical stress on a worker. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) are muscle, tendon, or nerve injuries that are a direct result of improper use or overuse of the body in the workplace. WMSDs are often caused by or made worse by workstations that aren’t fit for the worker. Workstations that are not adequately fit for the individual using them can cause chronic pain or injury. Working in health care requires a lot of physical strain on the body. Without the proper tools and workstations, the worker is likely to get hurt.
One of the most significant risk factors for workers who are often back and forth from a desk is improper height. If a healthcare worker needs to look at a computer screen briefly, and then return to work, it is unlikely that they are going to sit down so that the screen is at the correct height. Instead, they will most likely lean over to look at the screen. This action, although seemingly minuscule, if it is repeated over and over throughout the day, can lead to severe back pain, and a high risk for injury. Similarly, if a desk or screen is set at an average height for a male, a woman who is five feet tall has to sit or stand in an awkward position to use the desk or see the screen. Each person’s body is different; therefore, each person’s workspace should be adjustable to fit their body size. This will help avoid any unnecessary pain or injuries.
What You Can Do
All of these statistics can be daunting. It is not a simple or easy task to prevent workplace injuries for healthcare workers. It is, however, feasible to decrease the probability of injury if the proper equipment is available. Some actions cannot be avoided. Workers cannot just stop pushing carts or moving patients. However, with time will come new tools and devices to assist and relieve workers of some of the strain required on their bodies. A critical step towards avoiding workplace injuries, especially for healthcare workers, is ensuring that each individual has the proper tools for them. Using desks and monitor stands that are easily adjusted for height and distance from the worker is an essential first step towards injury prevention.
The StableRise workstation has a variety of adjustable elements that allow healthcare workers to adjust each station to their own needs. The station is easily adjusted to ensure that no additional strain is put on the worker to try to move their station. Healthcare workers put a lot of stress on their bodies, day in, and day out. A workstation that doesn’t fit the worker should not be yet another reason for the physical strain on their bodies.
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health. “Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) : OSH Answers.” Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, 4 May 2020, www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/rmirsi.html.
Christ, Ginger. StackPath, Aug. 2015, www.ehstoday.com/standards/osha/article/21917048/ergonomics-in-healthcare-infographic.
“Hospital Ergonomics.” Environment, Health and Safety, ehs.unc.edu/workplace-safety/ergonomics/hospital-ergonomics/.
“Risk Factors.” Risk Factors | Environmental Health and Safety | Iowa State University, www.ehs.iastate.edu/services/occupational/ergonomics/risk-factors.