Healthcare’s Unique Challenges for Applying Ergonomics
Are Healthcare Environments Any Different Than General Industry?
The short answer is undoubtedly, “Yes.” Healthcare environments present a number of unique challenges for applying ergonomics that are not often present in general industry. Those challenges include but are not limited to:
- Non-stop Operation – 24/7 means shift work and shared workspaces.
- Healthcare must serve the entire population – people of different heights, weights, configurations. Also, people don’t have handles for lifting.
- Regulations and security information requirements impose unique and potentially conflicting demands on workplaces.
- The complete range of physical stresses are performed in less than ideal postures and positions.
- Many healthcare jobs require multitasking with high physical activity and highly skilled technical work.
- Healthcare is predominantly female who are 3-4 times at higher risk for cumulative trauma injury as men.
Some of the obvious solutions include the use of adjustable workstations whenever possible, assistive devices, and training to decrease job stresses. A full discussion of healthcare ergonomics is covered in: Ergonomics for Healthcare Environments by Tim Springer, PhD of The Human Environmental Research Organization, Inc. This document may be found in full at: http://www.knoll.com/research/downloads/healthcare_ergonomics.pdf.
Feel free to share your first hand experiences with the ergonomics challenges facing the healthcare field and/or some success stories you may have of ergonomic interventions!