Whether it’s an office workstation, restaurant, factory floor or any of the multitude of other places where we earn our keep, work is a place employed South Africans spend the vast majority of their time. A significant contributing factor to workplace ergonomics hazards is posture, which is affected by the height of a person’s workstation, desk, chair and computer monitor as well as the size of the monitor screen. With people spending increasingly more time sitting at desks, in cars, and hunched over electronic devices, muscular-skeletal problems are on the rise. It’s no wonder then that the 2017 Old Mutual Disability Monitor reported that disabilities related to muscular-skeletal issues are now the third-leading cause of all disability claims.
Speaking in light of World Spine Day, celebrated on the 16th of October, Urvashi Ramjee, Head of claims: Old Mutual Group Assurance, says that the key to addressing issues around ergonomic health is prevention. “Ergonomics promotes a holistic approach in optimising wellbeing at work and overall systems performance by considering physical, cognitive, social, organisational and environmental factors. Desks and chairs don’t just have to be relatively comfortable or clean anymore; once the draft Ergonomics Regulations – which will form part of the existing Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act – come into effect, employers will have a responsibility to start addressing ergonomic risk factors.
“With one in four adults estimated to suffer from back pain during their lives, understanding workplace ergonomics hazards – and addressing them – is critical in terms of preventative occupational health,” concludes Ramjee.