Engineering Controls | Ergonomics

The preferred means of controlling or reducing ergonomic hazards in the workplace is through the use of engineering controls. After all, the primary focus of ergonomic hazard abatement is to make the job fit the person, not force the person to fit the job. These are typically permanent controls and can be accomplished by ergonomically designing workstations, tools, or equipment.

The preferred approach to prevent and control musculoskeletal disorders is to design the job — including (1) the workstation layout, (2) selection and use of tools, and (3) work methods — to take account of the capabilities and limitations of the workforce. Engineering control strategies to reduce ergonomic risk factors include the following:

  • Changing the way materials, parts, and products can be transported.

  • Changing the process or product to reduce worker exposures to risk factors.

  • Modifying containers and parts presentation, such as height-adjustable material bins.

  • Changing workstation layout, which might include using height-adjustable workbenches.

  • Changing the way parts, tools, and materials are to be manipulated. Examples include using fixtures (clamps, vice-grips, etc.) to hold work pieces to relieve the need for awkward hand and arm positions or suspending tools to reduce weight and allow easier access.

  • Changing tool designs — for example, squeeze-grip-actuated screwdrivers to replace finger-trigger-actuated screwdrivers.

  • Changes in materials and fasteners such as lighter weight packaging materials to reduce lifting loads.

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