Did you know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ergonomic injuries account for one out of every three missed workdays? In fact, employees take more time off work (an average of around 11 days per year) due to injuries and bodily damage caused by ergonomic problems than other injuries or illnesses. Similarly, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) finds that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) accounted for 33 percent of all worker injury and illness cases.
While many of us might equate workplace injuries with the heavy lifting done by warehouse employees, or the dangers associated with manual jobs such as the construction industry, sitting in front of a computer for long hours every day also comes with its share of potential health problems.
Unfortunately, many of the musculoskeletal disorders that affect office workers are ignored by both the employees and the employers. Even in cases where businesses make a sincere effort to protect and enhance the health and wellbeing of their workforce, improper data collection methods may skew or distort the true scope of ergonomic problems affecting employees.
In this short article we are going to take a look at the proper procedures for collecting data for employee ergonomic evaluations. Specifically, we’ll explore the importance of anthropometry data and explain the types of anthropometric data that can be collected in a workplace setting.
What Is Anthropometric Data?
Anthropometric data refers to the different types of data relative to human body size and shape. Anthropometric data is the basis upon which all digital human models are constructed.
For example, in the world of professional sports, managers, scouts, coaches and others go to great lengths to collect detailed anthropometric data related to the size and proportions of the human bodies of the athletes they employ. Sports teams know that the height, weight, physical structure, arm length, and other anthropometric variables play a vital role in the player's performance and can have a definitive and decisive advantage in many games.
In the specific case of the workplace, gathering anthropometric data can also play an extremely important role in ensuring that you have the right employee for the job while helping to avoid workplace injuries. In a warehouse setting, for example, gathering correct anthropometric data can help you ensure that your employees will be able to safely perform the heavy lifting that the job tasks require.
In many cases, this data is just as important as teaching correct lifting techniques in avoiding potentially costly workplace injuries.
How To Collect Proper Anthropometric Data For Ergonomic Evaluations
Even if your workplace does not require any heavy lifting or otherwise strenuous physical activity, gathering accurate anthropometric data of your workers to input in ergonomic assessments will help determine the appropriate postures that can be adopted and the tasks that can be performed safely and effectively by various employees.
Accurate anthropometry is an important tool that impacts the design of the work environment. It will help result in data-driven ergonomic adaptations that ensure the health and comfort of employees, while simultaneously reducing the frequency and severity of workplace accidents and injuries. Furthermore, anthropometric data can play a crucial and decisive role in optimizing the work space and surrounding conditions for people with disability challenges. In this sense, anthropometric data can also be a tool for greater workforce inclusivity.
There are dozens of different applications for the use of anthropometric data in the workplace. To name just one example, the data collected in anthropometric databases may represent static dimensions, such as “lower leg length,” or functional dimensions such as “reach.” This individualized data can thus help employers invest in comfortable ergonomic desks and other work station equipment that are customized to the needs of individual employees.
Not only will this data-based approach reduce the frequency of MSD and other related ergonomic injuries, but it can also improve employee comfort and well-being, and even improve productivity levels.
Start Your Workplace Ergonomic Evaluations With Work-Fit
If your company doesn’t have direct experience with gathering anthropometric data, or needs a robust ergonomic program, consider Work-Fit to help meet your needs. Work-Fit is a leading onsite injury prevention and management for your workforce specializing in establishing a culture of wellness within your workplace.
Our workplace injury prevention and injury management programs can help your company gather proper anthropometric data, conduct customized ergonomic evaluations and advise you on data-driven ergonomic solutions. Contact Work-Fit to see how we can help your company today!