Since musculoskeletal disorders are one of the leading causes of lost workday injury and illness across industries, having a Safety Training Talk about ergonomics and MSDs may help reduce injuries at your workplace.

Ergonomics Safety Training Brief

Make sure employees understand what ergonomics is and why it is an important safety topic.

Definition: Ergonomics is the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. It involves how a workplace, the equipment used there and the work environment itself can best be designed for comfort, efficiency, safety, and productivity.

Controlling ergonomic risk factors is an important part of ensuring employees have a safe workplace.

Discuss the risk factors. What applies to specific jobs or work environment at your worksite?

  • Repetition. Doing the same task repeatedly; using the same muscles over and over.
  • High force. Using extra muscle power during activities such as heavy lifting, pushing boxes or gripping tools
  • Awkward postures. Working with your body bent, twisted, extended or flexed rather than in a neutral position.
  • Contact stress. Pressure from an object pushed on soft body tissues (i.e., tool handle).
  • Hand-arm vibration. Vibrations that enter the body from power tools or equipment.

Take those risk factors and talk about ways to prevent or avoid these hazards. Use these examples to generate ideas that will work for your work team. How do they apply to the jobs at your company?

  • Use equipment such as dollies, carts, hoists and other mechanical devices when manually handling tools and materials.
  • Be sure to use the proper lifting techniques. Prepare by stretching and warming up before performing lifting tasks.
  • When performing low-level work, change your position often – kneel, crouch, squat, or sit.
  • Use material lifts, scaffolds or other equipment that minimize how far you move away from the neutral posture.
  • Make sure tools properly fit each worker’s grip – one size does not fit all.
  • Maintain tools in good working order to help minimize vibration.

Safety Training is a great time to demonstrate and do hands-on teaching.

For instance, demonstrate a neutral standing and sitting posture as well as awkward postures. Use this to come up with ways to avoid or prevent these hazards.

Since so many jobs now involve computers (desktop, laptop, tablet, phone), design an ergonomically retrofitted workspace and gain employees feedback.

Schedule some safety briefs or toolbox talks on a regular basis, such as once a month. Your workers are going to be more willing to adhere to the rules and use PPE if they understand its importance.