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Ergonomics in the Workplace

September 15, 2014

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Our training kits prepare you to avoid accidents caused by misusing machinery, but another hazard may be less obvious. Your own body weight and the weight of things you lift can also cause injury to your back and joints. Back and neck injuries can be caused by accidents, like hitting your head against a cabinet or tripping and falling. Accidental injuries are hard to avoid, but staying fit and keeping the work site clean and organized will help. Non-accidental injuries are not sudden events, but can be just as serious. Prolonged standing, poor posture, repeated activities or motions, and overwork can all cause injury. Because back and joint problems can occur over time, you may not realize the seriousness of your symptoms. When you begin to feel a strain in your back or joints, rest and evaluate your work practices. Ergonomics are a simple way to avoid injury. Follow these guidelines to stay healthy.

Standing Jobs

If your job requires standing for long periods, you may encounter lower back pain from your muscles losing elasticity from prolonged contraction. Your body has difficulty staying still for more than 20 minutes. If you must stay still, every 20 minutes you should take a minute to stretch. Flexing your joints will allow your muscles to relax and contract, allowing better blood flow and keeping your muscles loose. You can do all of these while standing and they only take a minute.

  • Put your hands on your hips and twist side to side to loosen your lower back and shoulders.
  • Stand on one foot and bring your opposite knee up as far as you can to stretch out your hip. Repeat on the other side.
  • Stand on one foot and grab the opposite ankle to bend your knee and stretch the front of your leg and hip.
  • Lean forward to place your hands on your knees or shins to stretch all the small muscles along your spine.
  • Stand on your tip toes to raise and lower your heels. It will flex your calves and ankles.


Lifting heavy objects is part of your job, but taking a few precautions and creating safe habits will help you avoid injury. Never lift anything too heavy. If you need to, ask for help from another person or use a forklift or other equipment. Proper posture will also help you avoid injury. When standing or lifting, keep your chin up and your shoulders over your hips. Tighten your abs and don’t lock your knees. If you keep the weight close to your body, it will help prevent strains. If you are lifting repeatedly, try to avoid lifting from the floor. If possible, stack pallets to keep the load waist height. If you need to move something across a room by pushing or pulling, try placing your back against it and push using your legs instead of your arms and back.

Just a few good habits and a safe workplace can keep you working pain free!

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