BREMERTON, Wash. –
The term ergonomics is derived from Greek words ergon (work) and nomos (natural law). Simply put, ergonomics helps prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders, which affect muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons.
Workers in many different industries and occupations can be exposed to risk factors at work, such as lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures, and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. Ergonomics should be seen as a win-win opportunity to improve productivity and quality while advancing employee safety.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration, work-related musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. In the workplace, the number and severity of musculoskeletal disorders resulting from physical overexertion, and their associated costs, can be substantially reduced by applying ergonomic principles.
Implementing an ergonomic process is effective in reducing the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders in high-risk industries as diverse as construction, food processing, firefighting, office jobs, transportation and warehousing. Essential elements of an effective ergonomics program include: management support through communication and proactive assessments; worker involvement to help identify hazards and risks on the job site; workforce training on the important elements of ergonomics; and continuous improvement and evaluation of the program’s efficacy in preventing musculoskeletal disorders.
The benefits of an earnest workplace ergonomics program include fewer musculoskeletal disorders, cumulative trauma disorders and repetitive stress injuries; increased comfort and productivity; decreased fatigue and pain; safer jobs with fewer injuries; and improved morale.
At Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility, people are the greatest asset and that means keeping them safe and ready to complete work. Naval Sea Systems Command and the Naval Safety and Occupational Health Manual 5100.23 outline requirements for a robust ergonomics program.
According to Section B2306 of the OPNAV, “the principles and application of ergonomics is a multidisciplinary applied science encompassing the medical, engineering, industrial hygiene, and safety fields.”
In alignment with NAVSEA and OPNAV requirements, PSNS & IMF Instruction 5100.85C outlines an injury prevention program called Injury Prevention Every Day, or iPED. Per the instruction, shipyard personnel may muster for iPED for up to 15 minutes and it can be performed during working hours and include overtime and holiday shifts. Stretching at the start of a shift maximizes benefits for production employees by warming up their bodies before starting work. Office employees also benefit from iPED during their workday to interrupt sedentary work. Ergonomic work practices are for everyone.
Ergonomics is part of a whole-person wellness as it can have an impact on life outside of the shipyard. The command's Health and Safety Office, Code 106.2, provides detailed guidance on its SharePoint page, including iPED exercises.
For more information on shipyard ergonomics, call (360) 476-9688.
NOTE: PSNS & IMF has an iPED playlist on YouTube with various stretches, at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrfwJHhyzvhqalnQO88CUWKN5aGq0Hebv.