Ergonomics Canada - 2018

How Ergonomics Can Preserve the Smile on Your Face Rate your own work performance, right now, on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being outstanding, and 0 being deplorable. What influences this score, during the day, and from day to day? Most ergonomists would argue that the design of your job plays a role. The effects of ergonomics are easiest to visualize with repetitive work, such as poultry processing, assembly, waste collection, or cashier. (Ergonomics works just as well in more complex environments, but it’s harder to isolate.) Let’s consider a task that we’ve all seen: pouring coffee into a cup. It’s an easy task, if the workstation and tools are designed for you (a good height, within your reach, good grip on the not-too-heavy pot), and if you are in good health and relatively fit. You can perform this task efficiently, effectively, and, even, perhaps, cheerfully. What if the workstation and tools are not designed for you? What if, for example, the pot is always stored at shoulder height? Then, every cup of coffee that you pour requires you to reach upwards to get the pot and again to put it back on the upper warming element. What if the pot is heavy, or if you have a chronically sore shoulder from a previous job? You won’t be able to perform efficiently – you might pause to set the pot down on the counter before you pour the cup, or after, to give your muscles a break before lifting it back to the element. If you take even a few seconds longer than expected for each cup, the entire process can be slowed down, causing a bottleneck, with customer lines running out the door. You won’t be able to work effectively either: you are more likely to spill or waste coffee if this task hurts your shoulder and you are rushing to fill the order. Ultimately, by the end of the day, your customer service skills will take a back seat to the muscular effort it takes to get through the day. If you’ve ever had a bad day – you didn’t sleep the night before, or you overdid the reno project on the weekend – then you know that your work performance isn’t always at a 10. Imagine feeling like that through every repetitive cycle of every hour of the day. By the end of the shift, it’s really quite impressive if “smiles are free.” Most people reading this article will be sitting, despite the loud-and-clear message in the media about the hazards of prolonged sitting. (Kudos to you if you’re standing right now!) What else affects your own job performance? How could you become more efficient (productive) or effective? Many time-wasters could be eliminated through ergonomic design, even in office jobs. In fact, virtually all of the tasks that we perform can be completed without ever leaving the computer. No need to get paper, deliver a message, fetch a fax, or attend a By Carrie Taylor, M.Sc., CCPE, CPE, R.Kin., Principal Ergonomist, Taylor’d Ergonomics Incorporated ©ISTOCK.COM/STEPHANHOEROLD continued on page 18 Organisations are missing an incredible opportunity to improve their efficiency, and effectiveness , by optimizing design parameters such as working heights, reaches, work flow, and communication systems. View this issue and past issues of Ergonomics online at • Voir les numéros antérieurs d’ Ergonomie sur le site Web 16