What are the international trends with ergonomics?
Approximately 21 ergonomics regulations exist in the Western world, including the European Economic Community (EEC) regulations setting minimum standards for 13 European countries. Member countries take the EEC regulations (pertaining to machinery, manual handling, and visual display units) and customize them for their own jurisdictions. The United Kingdom (1992), the province of Victoria in Australia (1988), and New Zealand (1991) developed some of the first comprehensive regulations dealing specifically with manual materials handling and visual display terminal (VDT) ergonomics and developed extensive Codes of Practice. Australia’s draft of an updated standard and code specifies responsibilities for designers, manufacturers, and suppliers.
Germany has drafted a manual to assist in the practical application of the provisions contained in the German Load Handling Directive. It contains almost 100 pages of ergonomic principles, based on a four step evaluation. The evaluation considers: repetitive lifting, holding time, and carrying/pushing/pulling distance (which form a time weighting), effective load on the body (weight or force), work postures, and working conditions. The four evaluation factors combine into an overall risk score.
Swedish regulations specify five responsibilities for the employer in areas of:
- work postures and movements
- physically monotonous, repetitive, closely controlled, or restricted work
- job decision latitude
- knowledge, skills and information
These regulations are unique in recognizing the impact of work organization (e.g. monotonous work with little worker control or opportunity to use skills and knowledge) on musculoskeletal disorders. If special circumstances require an employee to do such work, then the risks of ill health must be mitigated by measures such as job rotation, job diversification, breaks, or other measures that add variety to the work.
Please continue to participate in the Pipeworx stretch program each day before work.
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