What Exactly Is Ergonomics?

musculoskeletal disorders


Is it your Visual Display Unit (VDU) set up? – Kind of

Is it your posture? – Yep!

Does it encompass your workstation? – Yes it most certainly does!

The actual word “Ergonomics” derives from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws, to create a word that means the science of work and a person’s relationship to that work.

The concept of it can be a little tricky to comprehend at times but to put it simply Ergonomics can be described as “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment” The idea of ergonomics is to design and arrange things that people use on a daily basis in their workplace in a safe and efficient manner across all organisations. Ideally Ergonomics should provide maximum productivity with minimal cost.

Under Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 the employer has a duty to ensure the employees’ safety, health and welfare at work as far as is reasonably practicable.

In order to prevent workplace injuries and ill health the employer is required, among other things, to:

Provide and maintain a safe workplace which uses safe plant and equipment
Prevent risks from use of any article or substance and from exposure to physical agents, noise and vibration
Prevent any improper conduct or behaviour likely to put the safety, health and welfare of employees at risk
Provide instruction and training to employees on health and safety
Provide protective clothing and equipment to employees
Appointing a competent person as the organisation’s Safety Officer

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work, (General Application) Regulations 2007, Chapter 5 of Part 2 dictates that it is also the employers duty to outline the requirements that must be adhered to in relation to Display Screen Equipment (DSE). In order to comply with this act an employer should:

  1. Carry out an Ergonomic Assessment of employee workstations and inform Employees of results.
  2. Provide training to employees in the use of workstations before commencing work with new or modified display screen equipment.
  3. Perform a new risk assessment where an employee uses a new workstation. Ergonomics can be a complex issue and in order to carry our proper assessments you may need to consult an ergonomic expert.

Ita Leyden was one of the first ergonomists to be qualified in Ireland and has a wealth of experience in this field. You can contact LCE on 051 364344 or email info@LCE.ie if you need guidance on any of the issues raised above.