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Workstation Ergonomics

19 Aug 2017Other Essays

The capacity to move from a seat to an upright position is kinetically considered as an important indicator for physical independence. The capability is also considered as a marker for risk of falls (Campbell et al., 1989). In the field of human kinetics, the ability to maintain balance through particular physical examinations is employed to determine the level of agility of a person. There are also tests that allow scoring an individual’s agility and these are mainly based on the time to complete a task of moving from a sitting to a standing position.

Standing up pertains to an action that involves the shift of the body from a stable stance to another position that involves the coordination of almost all parts of the human body. The simultaneous movement from a sitting to a standing position is thus associated with two major issues associated with the musculoskeletal system. The voluntary action of a number of body parts assists in the transformation of an individual’s posture from that of being seated to standing upright. In addition, there is a need for a control and maintenance of the body’s equilibrium as the center of gravity is shifted during the transition from sitting to standing. The displacement of the center of gravity generally involves moving in a forward fashion, coupled with a backward and vertical movement of the other parts of the body. This study aims to determine the effect of posture at the workstation on the biomechanics of sitting and standing.

Background

Posture and movement have been long recognized as essential indicators for body kinetics. The important of these two issues have been comprehensively studied as activities of elderly individuals are often hindered due to the deterioration of these two conditions. The biomechanics involved in the maintenance of posture and movement are strongly associated with the capacity of an individual to shift from one position to another, such as that of sitting down and standing up. Kinetic studies have attempted to describe changes in these actions by timing how long it takes for an individual to stand up, as well as identifying that various body parts that are involved to complete such action (Cacciatore et al., 2005).

Geriatric and physical therapy studies have reported that the capacity of an individual to stand from a seated position takes a longer and more difficult time when an individual ages (Amoud et al., 2007). This is common observation among elderly individuals because their muscles are less capable to receiving and exerting pressure and strain (Blouin et al., 2007). In addition, the posture of these older people is generally distorted as other conditions occur within the body, including the decrease in the amount of calcium which results in the shrinkage of bone mass. In the workplace, employees are generally required to work for almost 8 hours each day on their desks, especially when their job description involves mainly desk work. This sedentary lifestyle often affects the general body condition as they continue on working for several months to years.

Unfortunately, proper posture and movement is often ignored at the workplace, as most of the physical pain and fatigue that is experienced by employees are often wrongly linked to the amount of deskwork that has to be completed in a day. In addition, the effect of posture and movement at the desk is often overlooked as most of the work in the office involves thinking and processing of information. It is disappointing to see that most workplaces do not associated posture and movement at the workstation as an integral and critical condition that needs to be addressed because it strongly influences the quality and quantity of output that each employee delivers at the workplace.

It has been earlier established that the coupled actions of sitting and motion varies in terms of magnitude, as well as timing, among individuals of different age ranges. There are previous reports that describe that body movements are significantly different between young and older individuals (Luomajoki et al., 2007). However, there are only a few investigations that have attempted to address this condition among employees at the workplace. This study thus aims to determine the effect of posture and movement among different employees at the workplace, with special emphasis on the length of service of each employee. Any correlations between the age of the employee and the length of time at the workplace will also be identified.

Methods

This study will be conducted at a specific workplace that employs approximately 50 individuals. The study participants will be asked for their consent to participate in the study. Briefly, the study participants will be given a questionnaire that will collect information such as their age, gender, position and length of service at the workplace. The questionnaire will also ask questions regarding the time they spend at the desk, as well as the time they spend walking or standing each day. There will also be inquiries will also include any physical pain or conditions that they experience during their entire service at the workplace. Examples of physical pain will include headaches, back pain, knee or joint pain, wrist soreness, etc. The questionnaire tool is shown in Appendix A.

The information gathered from the study will be collected and assessed in terms of variations and similarities among the study participants. Statistical analysis will also be performed in order to determine significance, correlation and standard deviations.

Results

The study showed that employees who spend more time sitting at their desks were more susceptible to experience physical pain. Only a small proportion of the study population indicated that they were aware of the effect of proper posture at the workplace. On the other hand, most of the employees indicated that they were more focused into completing their assigned tasks at work that they did not notice that their posture were suboptimal, thus resulting in physical pain.

The study also showed that the employees who worked at the company for a longer duration experienced more episodes of back pain and headaches than those employees who have work for a shorter period of time. Those individuals who spent less time on the desk and performed walking around the workplace or other worksite only experienced the common fatigue that is normally resulting from the walking. The study also indicated that the older employees were also more prone to experiencing body pain that was associated to their work.

Conclusions

The study shows that continuous improper posture at the workplace for an extended duration results in the development of physical conditions such as back and shoulder pain. It is possible that the physical condition of sitting for long durations at the desk without any awareness of proper posture may result in injuries that may affect an individual’s movement. There is also a strong significance between the age and the duration of service of an employee who is employed to a generally sedentary nature.

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