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Motion Control Engineering & Manufacturing Resources

The Consequences of Bad Ergonomically Designed Equipment

Posted by Weber Knapp on Nov 22, 2021 10:31:47 AM

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You’re an office worker, sitting in an inexpensive desk chair with little to no lumbar support. Your keyboard, mouse, and monitor are all on a level surface, and you’re constantly shifting your wrists and hands into uncomfortable positions to type and use your mouse. 

One day, you start to feel your hands or feet start to tingle. Maybe you think, “Ah, my foot’s asleep!” However,  this could be a much more serious condition: carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Carpal tunnel syndrome is just one of the many possible repetitive stress injuries caused by bad ergonomically designed products and equipment. These are the three points you can stress to potential customers who aren't sure whether high-end ergo equipment is worth it:

 

3 Effects of Poor Ergonomics in the Workplace 

The main goal of ergonomics in any workspace is to improve posture while reducing the risk of repetitive stress and strain injuries. Integrating office, manufacturing, retail, or medical equipment that isn’t ergonomic can have serious impacts not only to your worker’s productivity and quality of work, but also to their health and well-being. 

Here are three of the main effects that bad ergonomically designed products have on your workforce:

  1. Repetitive Stress Injuries

  2. Back, Neck, and Other Workplace Injuries

  3. Decreased Productivity and Health

 

Repetitive Stress Injuries

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Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), sometimes referred to as repetitive motion injuries or repetitive motion disorders, are common when discussing the impacts of poor ergonomics. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, RSIs “are caused by too many uninterrupted repetitions of an activity or motion, unnatural or awkward motions such as twisting the arm or wrist, overexertion, incorrect posture, or muscle fatigue.” 

RSIs occur primarily in the hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders. However, cases involving the neck, back, hips, knees, and ankles are common, depending on the worker’s duties. RSIs are most frequent among individuals without ergonomic equipment who perform repetitive tasks such as: 

  • Assembly line work
  • Construction
  • Computer-based work (several hours per day) 

 

Back, Neck, and Other Workplace Injuries

Since most manufacturing, packing, and assembly lines require employees to sit or stand for an entire shift operating their machinery, using improperly designed ergonomic equipment almost guarantees back and neck strain. 

Non-adjustable equipment may limit a user’s full view of their programming screens, keyboards, or control panels without twisting or straining. Since no two workers are identical, it also severely impedes workers that may be too short, tall, or otherwise unable to view their stations properly. 

Without the proper equipment and training, warehouse and manufacturing workers can severely injure their backs if they attempt to lift a piece of equipment or product the improper way. Mobile lifts, carts, and trays allow for workers of any strength to lift heavy objects with little force and move them in a manner safe to both the worker and the object.

In an auto body shop, manufacturing floor, or carpentry workshop, heavy-duty industrial-sized toolboxes may be required to house specialized equipment. These lids can weigh well in excess of 100 lbs. Without the proper counterbalance (weight-mitigating) hinges, you can risk damaged equipment or even smashed fingers and limbs. 

 

Decreased Productivity and Health

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It’s clear that your employees can’t give 100% when they’re either injured or worried about injury. Poor ergonomic design can decrease the longevity of your workforce and cause output and efficiency to drop drastically. Workers that are forced to operate equipment outside of their normal/comfortable viewing zone may develop neck or back strain, decreasing their focus and ability to handle physical tasks. 

When workers are subjected to improper ergonomics for extended periods of time, entire workforces can be hindered by repetitive stress injuries, back and neck strains, and other ergonomic injuries. It’s already hard enough to find good workers today -- why increase your turnover rates by creating an unsafe environment?

 

Dealing With the Consequences of Bad Ergonomically Designed Products

While implementing ergonomic equipment may be challenging, it helps to avoid a slowdown in production, costly worker’s compensation claims, shutdowns, and even lawsuits. When choosing where to purchase your next set of ergonomic equipment, working with a manufacturer that’s certified and compliant with all the relevant standards is crucial to protecting your equipment and your employees. 

Check out our free Manager’s Equipment Guide below to review best practices for adding ergonomic solutions at the office in nearly any industry:

Manager's Equipment Guide

 

Topics: Ergonomics, Design, Industrial, office equipment, OSHA