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Ergonomics Examples of Potential Health Risks

In the past, people did not use chairs for sitting down. They either sat or squatted on the floor thus the idea to create things that can be used to provide comfort gave rise to the science of ergonomics. However, the ancient people did not experience back and neck pain the way working people of today do because of some ergonomics examples of incorrect usage of modern objects.


Ergonomics is mainly about meeting the five essential needs of people in the workplace: safety, comfort, efficiency, productivity, and aesthetics. These five concerns can be organized into three areas:

  • Physical Ergonomics: It deals with the study of how the body interacts with commonly used items, tools and equipment in the place of work, such as chairs and tables, computers, power tools, etc. It determines the effects of these interactions by the manner of how objects are used, what particular body parts are most affected, or how the work area is configured. This is the reason why the best ergonomic office chairs were invented in the first place.
  • Cognitive Ergonomics: This refers to the study of how the human mind interacts with information and data. It establishes the factors that enable the mind in recognizing, processing, and retaining information based on their location or visibility.
  • Organizational Ergonomics: It is primarily concerned with maximizing efficiency at the workplace, from quality management down to teamwork to individual performance.

As the workplace became modernized, it also resulted to the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can lead to debilitating conditions such as paralysis, premature aging, weakening, or lack of dexterity. The workplace is supposed to be an ideal place where employees can enjoy the ergonomics benefits of satisfying the five essential needs. However, the working environment is transformed into an unfriendly zone due to some ergonomics examples of how objects can be wrongly used.

  • Using a chair that is too low for the desk - The imbalance can cause strain on the wrist with the pain extending up to the shoulders and neck. The ideal height must be at right angle where the elbows and the knees are somewhat 90o to the computer.
  • Positioning the keyboard at an upward slope - Computer users who position their keyboard in such manner are most likely to suffer from irreversible Carpal Tunnel syndrome, an inflammation of the wrist vessel. The painful condition is caused by too much strain and stress on the wrist during typing.
  • Maintaining the same position for prolonged period - Keeping the same position for long hours can cause the muscle to become stiff. Even if sitting is a comfortable position, it can cause physical harm to the body because of the immense weight being supported by the back. It can later result to lower lumbar back pain.
  • Limiting the space - The shortage of space usually accounts for the reason why the workplace has become congested. It restricts movement because there is not enough space for the arms, feet and other parts of the body to move without bumping into things. The workers have to assume distorted postures in order to fit within the limited space, which is another potential health risk.

Avoiding these ergonomics examples of incorrect work practices can effectively prevent physical injuries and MSD disorders. Knowing how to counter these major mistakes is like preventing a major disaster from happening at the workplace.