Concept of “Safety” and “Ergonomic Risks”
In understanding the concept of safety and ergonomic risks, the most important aspect is to understand the term itself.
“Safety is the state of being “safe” (from French sauf), the condition of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes. Safety can also refer to the control of recognised hazards in order to achieve an acceptable level of risk.”
(Wikipedia, accessed 5 May 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safety)
From here, it can be observed that the definition is slightly ambiguous due to certain words used that require further explanation. For instance, “non-desirable outcomes”, requires further explanation on what the type of outcomes are. Thus, it is imperative to be clearer in the definition of non-desirable outcomes and how they can be avoided.
Ergonomic refers to the field of science that studies the interaction between human and machines, and also human and the work environment (WHSC). Ergonomic risks refer to unsafe practices in these instances that compromise the workers’ safety and working conditions (WHSC). Examples of ergonomic risks include awkward postures, overstretching of body parts, over-straining the eyes, excessive motions, repetitive movements. These ergonomic risks, if not taken into consideration and mitigated appropriately, would lead to occupational injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders.
Hence, it is imperative, to prevent ergonomic risks from occurring at the onset when workers operate machinery. In the case of a vehicle driver, the possible ergonomic risks are improper sitting position that could lead to back injuries, prolonged use of the eyes leading to poor vision, increase in cognitive usage during driving leading to mental stress, excessive bending of the arms during manoeuvring of the steering wheels, which could lead to musculoskeletal injuries and many more. It is important for research to be conducted in this area to identify these ergonomic risks and provide recommendations to mitigate them.