Jobsite Accommodation & Ergonomics
There are often many accommodations that can assist a person with a disability to perform job tasks. Often a person is able to do most tasks, but there will be some tasks that their disability precludes them from doing altogether, or in an efficient manner. During our evaluation, we will work with the client to break down their work into job tasks and identify those job tasks that could be enhanced by assistive technology.
Because every job and every person is unique, there is no cookie cutter solution. We tailor all of our recommendations specifically for a particular client for their particular job.
What does Ergonomics Mean?
Ergonomics (from the Greek word ergon meaning work, and nomoi meaning natural laws), is the science of arranging or designing items to optimize them for human use. Ergonomics is sometimes referred to as human factors engineering.
The overriding idea behind ergonomics is to bring the work to the person instead of the person going to the work. Proper ergonomics allows a person to keep their body in the most neutral position and then work related items are placed so that the neutral position can be maintained.
These principals are the same for someone is able bodied or if someone has a disability. When disability is added to the mix, this just adds another layer of complexity to achieve that neutral position. Often we need to use specialized equipment in order to maintain good ergonomic position, but the overall goal is the same.
What Does Ergonomics Address?
In addition to the concept of neutral position, a good ergonomic evaluation should address repetitive motions to help prevent repetitive stress injuries. There are four factors to consider with repetitive stress injuries – vibration, force, awkward position, and static loading.
- Vibration occurs typically when operating tools with moving parts such as drills or saws.
- Force is how much weight must the body support to perform a task.
- Awkward position is placing the body in a position outside of a neutral position when performing the task.
- Static loading is how long does the body need to hold a position to perform a task.
If any of these factors are experienced for an extended period of time, a repetitive stress injury can occur. If any of these factors are experienced in high amounts for a short period of time, injury can also occur.
Examples of Ergonomics
Some examples of this would be if a worker needs to put their body in a bad position many times throughout the workday to reach an item, such as reaching for an item on a very high or very low shelf. The worker may not experience pain when performing the task one time, but repeated awkward reaching over the course of days, months, and years, can add up to an injury.
We can analyze a job and find potential sources that could contribute to repetitive stress injuries. Often we are working with clients who have already experienced an injury and we are looking to resolve the sources of the problem.
Computer workstations are a common environment that we are called upon to address.