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IMPORTANCE OF ERGONOMICS FOR EMPLOYEE HEALTH & SAFETY

IMPORTANCE OF ERGONOMICS FOR EMPLOYEE HEALTH & SAFETY

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Do you stand on your feet at work for the better part of the day? Your feet get sore and painful? Working under such conditions can have adverse effects on your feet.

Importance of Ergonomics for Health and Safety
The ergonomics field is quite broad. Basically, it can be defined as a scientific branch that borrows knowledge from other disciplines such as physiology and engineering, ensuring that designs complement the skills and strengths in a person, minimizing the effects of their shortcomings. Ergonomics addresses the way people interact with a work environment; for example, the postures that they are mostly in during work or the movements they are needed to make. This can be used instead of just waiting for them to adapt to particular designs while undergoing challenges like discomfort and stress. Therefore, an ergonomist's work is to devise ways that can help people fit in a system effortlessly.

People who work on their feet are one of the most affected people in workplaces. Yes, standing is a natural human posture that poses not so many health risks. The problem comes in when the standing is done for too long. People working as machine operators, salespeople, and assembly line workers do jobs that require a lot of standing. This regular practices can cause different diseases and ailments. Some of these ailments include:

  1. Fallen Arches
    Also known as flat feet, this is a condition where you find the entire foot's sole touching the floor when you stand. Our feet' arches are significant since they help us balance, stand, walk, run, and jump by providing the foot with the flexibility and springiness required. The diagnosis of this disease is made through a visual examination which is later confirmed by imaging tests. Most people who develop this disease show very few, if any, symptoms. However, you may feel some pain, especially in the mid-foot region. This pain may increase when you get involved in an activity. Swelling can also develop along your arch and ankle.

    People who work while standing for too long can develop this disease mainly after the foot is subjected to pronation for long.

    The good thing about Fallen Arches is that it can be corrected. Treatment can involve over-the-counter pain medications, foot exercises, or orthotic insoles such as SelectFlex arch control insoles and surgery (very rare).

2. Plantar Fasciitis
This disease is one of the most common causes of foot ache among workers. It occurs when inflammation develops on the thick tissue band that runs across the foot's bottom and connects the toes to the heel bones. Most patients who have had Plantar Fasciitis always complain of sharp pains, especially when taking the first steps. This pain then gradually decreases, but if they stand again for too long, the pain then returns.

When workers stand for too long, the bone that supports the foot's arch (plantar fascia) experiences great tension causing minimal tears to start developing. Since they work daily, the recurrent tears start irritating and inflaming the bone leading to the disease's development.

Therefore, people who work in such conditions can protect themselves from this disease by wearing adequate arch support in their shoes to reduce the stress applied to the foot. Orthotics experts have recommended using customizeable arch support to help cushion the foot, protect it, and promote worker wellness.

There are ergonomic-friendly ways that can have been effective in preventing this disease. For example, workers are encouraged to maintain a healthy weight. They can also engage in routine stretches after long working hours. Proper work footwear and appropriate shoe inserts are also recommended.

  1. Morton's Neuroma
    This is a condition where a nerve in the foot gets irritated or damaged. One of the main symptoms is stabbing or burning pain coming from beneath the toes. You might also feel like there is a small stone stuck under the foot. These symptoms get worse as the disease develops and might worsen when you wear high-heeled or tight shoes.

    Ergonomists in workplaces suggest that when working, workers should wear safety shoes with several characteristics such as:
    • Wide toecaps
    • Made from soft material such as leather
    • Shoe inserts with gel
    • Quick closing system
    • With wide lasts

    Shoes that have flat surfaces and pointy ends should be avoided at all costs. Also, the ones made of a rigid material, especially around the toe area, are not suitable for a job where you stand for so long.
  2. Foot Pain
    The human foot is designed for mobility. This makes standing for long hours while maintaining an upright stand tiring. Foot aches are common to people who spend most of their working hours upright. This discomfort might be originating from the calluses, corns, knees, and other parts.

    Several options have been employed to try and help workers avoid such pain while on their jobs. This includes changing the environment on which work is being done (especially the floors), wearing the recommended standard of shoes to work, and allocating suitable floor mats for them to stand on. Research has also proven that simple foot stretches at intervals during the day come in handy.
  3. Rheumatoid Arthritis
    Standing for long hours is also known to cause rheumatoid arthritis. People with this disease might confuse the first symptoms with normal foot pains after experiencing pain and stiffness in the toes' joints and ligaments. These aches later persist, especially when they walk after being in a stagnant position for a long time. The aching can also be accompanied by abnormal warmth in several parts of the foot, even if the other body parts are cooler.

    If you are one of the people who work on their feet, you should practice several prevention techniques that will minimize movement. For example, you should always keep what you need around you to avoid unnecessary stretching and pulling. Also, you are not supposed to stand in one position for too long; move your knees a little bit. Stooping down helps release the stiffness and pressure that will have built up while you were standing.

    It is evident that most of these diseases can be caused by wearing shoes that do not have the best cushioning for your arch and feet. If you spend long hours working on your feet, save yourself from the pain and get our SelectFlex Arch Control Insoles today.

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