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From the Desk of Nichola Adams

Decoding Ergonomics: A Guide For Workplace Managers

Have you ever read a workplace assessment report and been a little perplexed by some of the industry terminology?

Today we want to unpack some of the key terms for any workplace managers out there who may be new to Ergonomics. 

So, let’s start with some common acronyms:

WRULDs (Work-Related Upper Limb Disorders): These are a range of discomforts stemming from repetitive tasks, like typing or using a mouse extensively. You might hear terms like tennis elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome, which can impact your team’s productivity and morale if not addressed.

RULA (Rapid Upper Limb Assessment): Think of this as a quick tool to spot potential ergonomic hazards related to how your team sits and moves at their desks. It’s like a safety check to prevent discomfort and injury before it happens.

RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury): A term which is less used these days as we tend to be more medically specific. This term refers to the toll of doing the same motions repeatedly, leading to discomfort and strain. It’s like the wear and tear your team’s bodies endure from repetitive tasks, which can affect their ability to work comfortably. These days we are more likely to refer to these as an occupational overuse syndrome (OOS) or specific cumulative trauma disorders. You will hear medical terms being used for inflammatory tendon or tendon sheath issues such as Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), De Quervain’s disease, Trigger finger or Tarsal tunnel syndrome. 

It is useful to understand some basic terms to do with posture which you may see used in workplace assessment reports.

* Extension (bending up)

* Flexion (bending down)

* Adduction/ulnar deviation (movement of entire hand toward the little finger)

* Abduction/radial deviation (movement of the entire hand toward the thumb)

These terms will often be used when referring to upper limbs (your arms) or the cervical spine (your neck). However, in practice, in Inspired Ergonomics, we will avoid using medical terms and instead use language that is easily understandable, with solutions for each issue provided at the same time.

In our consultancy practice, we may refer to:

Anthropometrics: This is about understanding your team’s body shapes and sizes to set up workspaces that fit them comfortably. We use measurement data to make adjustments to suit individual needs, promoting comfort and productivity.

Human Factors: This is all about designing workspaces that consider how humans interact with their environment. It is about creating systems, processes, workflows, environments anything we use at work that makes work easier and more efficient for people. Often this term is interchanged with Ergonomics.

DSE (Display Screen Equipment): These are the devices your team uses with screens, like computers and monitors. Making sure they’re set up correctly can prevent eye strain and discomfort, keeping your team focused and healthy.

HSE (Health and Safety Executive): This is a regulatory body that sets standards for workplace safety, including ergonomics. Their guidelines help ensure your team’s well-being and compliance with safety regulations.

Understanding these terms will help you to unpack some of the conversations being had around ergonomics and adjustments for workers. Of course, getting an expert on board is always advisable, as not only do we understand the lingo, we also know how to provide training and advice to ensure the well-being and productivity of your team.  

If you would like to know more about our services please get in touch.

Nichola Adams

Founder of Inspired Ergonomics

Nichola Adams, MSc Health Ergonomics, Tech CIEHF, ACPOHE Reg Member, is the Founder of Inspired Ergonomics.

Nichola is a specialist in back pain disorders in the workplace. Inspired Ergonomics regularly provides consultancy services to leading UK and International companies on how to reduce and prevent back pain in the workplace as well as working with rehabilitation companies.

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