Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Teamwork & Communication - Critical Components of the Ergonomic Process

A team approach to ergonomics ...

"Last week I had the opportunity to work with several injured workers in their office environment. Both spend 8 hours in front of a computer performing extensive keyboard and mouse work. Both are in serious pain with repetitive injuries that cause aching within 30 seconds of sitting down to work. Both have seen doctors, therapists, and had ergonomic interventions with the best equipment issued. One has already been scheduled to undergo a carpal tunnel release in the near future.

Speaking to and observing the work habits of these women has affirmed my belief that ergonomics is a multi-faceted process requiring teamwork to be successful.

* The doctor may diagnose and offer expertise in prescribing medications to calm down the inflammatory process of injury.
* The therapists can perform modalities such as massage, ultrasound and the use of heat and cold to promote injury recovery. Skilled in observing how bodies work, they can discover areas of weakness, tightness and muscular imbalances that can be corrected with therapeutic exercise.
* The ergonomic specialist can provide the equipment, work-site modifications, and work-style recommendations that create a comfortable and less stressful working environment.
* Management can provide a supportive environment that allows healing, promotes employee good-will, but also ensures productivity.
* And the injured worker needs to believe in the program and take an active part in their recovery. This is not always an easy thing to do – it requires persistence, even a bit of obsession, to attend medical and therapy appointments, take medications on schedule, change work habits, stretch, take frequent micro-breaks, and use cold packs throughout the day – all while trying to get the job done, frequently under the microscope of management and co-workers who may not believe that an invisible injury can be so painful.

If any aspect of the team process is impaired, recovery may be impaired. Communication and education are critical throughout. So is observation, follow-up, and accepting feedback. My observation of the two young women last week shows how the process can break down in spite of good intentions. It also highlights one of my ergonomic pet peeves – the wrist rest."    (Continued via Bella Online)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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