Ergonomics is the science of designing a person’s environment so that it encourages the highest level of functionality and efficiency. A person’s work environment should fit his or her capabilities as a worker.

Good ergonomics prevent injury and promote health, safety, and comfort for employees.

The application of ergonomic principles can exponentially increase worker productivity and quality of life. Employers can implement a program with guidelines for workers to follow. This beneficial program will contribute to an efficient work environment, prevent injuries and the development of chronic medical conditions, and helps employees return to work more quickly after an injury.

Occupational Therapy practitioners are trained in the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury. They also can determine how the components of the workplace can facilitate a healthy and efficient environment or one that could cause injury or illness. Occupational Therapists can help employers pin point potential hazards that may contribute to on-the-job injury, and provide guidance on how to eliminate it.

What can an Occupational Therapist do?

  • Identify and eliminate accident and injury risk factors in the workplace, such as actions associated with repetition, force, fixed or awkward postures, poorly designed tool handles, heavy loads, distance, vibration, noise, extreme temperatures, poor lighting, and psychosocial and other occupational stresses.
  • Analyze job functions and job descriptions based on job tasks.
  • Design pre-hire screenings to determine whether or not a candidate is suitable for a particular job.
  • Modify tools and equipment so that an injury or illness is not possible.
  • Provide on-site education and training related to injury prevention, health and safety regulations, and managing job-related stress.
  • Determine reasonable accommodations and worksite accessibility that is in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • Recommend modifications employers can make to minimize the possibility of injury and accident risk factors.

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What can a person do to employ good ergonomics in the workplace?

  • Make the recommended changes before an injury occurs. Take a proactive approach to preventing injury in the workplace.
  • Remember and follow the guidelines provided by employers that can prevent injury and illness.
  • Report hazards, poor work conditions or employee behavior that could lead to illness or injury in the workplace.

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Need more information?

Proper workplace ergonomics is important and should be communicated by both employers and employees.

Occupational Therapists and occupational therapy assistants are trained in helping both adults and children with a broad range of physical, developmental, and psychological conditions. Practitioners also help clients and their caregivers with strategies that can prevent injury and secondary complications, and support health and well-being.


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