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Exclusive Guide to Set up Workstations for Managing Risks of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) 

15/09/2023by admin0Read: 4 minutes

In the fast-paced world of business, when deadlines loom and objectives must be fulfilled, one crucial factor that is sometimes forgotten is worker health and safety. However, there is no space for compromise when it comes to workplace safety.

Every Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is solely responsible for the physical well-being of their personnel. This encompasses a myriad of measures, including managing the often underestimated but prevalent risks associated with Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs).

In this article, we will explore the importance of managing MSD risks, the role of consultation with workers, and the key elements of a safe workstation setup to mitigate these risks.

PCBUs and Their Responsibilities

PCBUs play a pivotal role in ensuring a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. Under Australian workplace health and safety regulations, PCBUs must ensure the health and safety of their workers to the extent that it is reasonably practicable. This entails a range of duties, with a specific focus on managing the risks of MSDs.

Consultation with Workers

To effectively identify and manage workplace hazards and risks, PCBUs are required to consult with their workers and health and safety representatives, if applicable. This collaborative approach involves seeking input from employees when identifying potential hazards, proposing changes, making decisions about risk control measures, and reviewing Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) policies and procedures.

Drawing on the experiences of workers helps in making more informed decisions about how to carry out work safely, as they are the ones on the front lines and have valuable insights.

Workers’ Responsibilities

While PCBUs hold significant responsibility for worker safety, employees also have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety at work. This includes complying with reasonable instructions, policies, and procedures, such as following workstation setup guidelines. Workers must be proactive in ensuring their own safety and be attentive to their work environment.

Understanding Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are a significant concern in Australian workplaces and are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, accounting for more than half of all claims. MSDs encompass a range of conditions affecting the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other parts of the musculoskeletal system. These conditions often result from factors such as poor posture, prolonged sitting, or the improper use of equipment.

Creating a Safe Workstation Setup

A well-designed workstation and conducive working environment can play a vital role in managing the risk of MSDs and other injuries. Here are some key elements to consider when setting up a safe workstation:

1. Comfortable Workspace:

Ensure that the workspace is comfortable and maintains a suitable temperature to prevent discomfort or distraction.

2. Proper Lighting:

Adequate lighting that is suitable for the tasks at hand and minimizes glare is essential to reduce eye strain and promote overall well-being.

3. Regular Breaks and Position Variation:

Encourage workers to take regular breaks and vary their positions frequently to prevent prolonged periods of sitting, which can contribute to MSDs.

4. Easy Exit at the End of the Day:

Workers should be able to leave their workstations at the end of the day without having to pack away equipment, allowing for a smoother transition between work and personal time.

5. Dedicated Workspace:

Minimise distractions in the workspace to promote focus and productivity.

Tailoring Workstation Setup

The specific setup of a workstation will depend on various factors, including:

  • The nature of the work being performed, including specific tasks and equipment requirements.
  • The working environment may vary for employees who travel or work in different locations.
  • Individual worker needs, such as the use of screen readers for those with visual impairments or height-adjustable equipment for ergonomic comfort.

Tips for Ergonomic Workstation Setup

An efficient ergonomic workstation can serve as a helpful tool to secure workers’ health and prevent the risk of MSD.

We have shared important steps for workers to set up their workstations, minimising the risk of MSDs and ensuring comfort and productivity throughout the workday.

1) Screen Placement:

  • Position the screen about one arm’s length away and directly in front.
  • Ensure the top of the screen is at eye level, slightly below eye level if necessary. Consider using a stand to achieve the ideal height.

2) Keyboard and Mouse Placement:

  • Angle your forearms slightly downward towards the keyboard to maintain a neutral wrist position.
  • Ensure that the keyboard, mouse, and other essential equipment are within easy reach without overstretching.

3) Work Surface:

  • Use a level and flat work surface with enough room to perform tasks comfortably.
  • Keep the work area clutter-free and organised.

4) Cord and Cable Management:

  • Neatly arrange electrical cords and cables to prevent tripping hazards and maintain a tidy workspace.
  • Avoid overloading power outlets and boards to reduce the risk of electrical accidents.

5) Equipment Condition:

Ensure that all electrical equipment is in good condition and not damaged. Repair or replace any faulty equipment promptly to avoid potential hazards.

6) Foot Support:

Keep feet flat on the floor or use a footrest if needed to maintain proper posture and reduce strain on the legs and lower back.

7) Head and Neck Position:

Position the head in a neutral position with the chin parallel to the ground to reduce strain on the neck and upper back.

8) Back Support:

  • Use a chair with proper backrest support to maintain the natural curve of the lower back (lumbar support).
  • Ensure that the chair allows oneself to sit close to the desk and provides freedom of movement.

9) Chair Selection:

If using a chair with armrests, ensure they do not hinder your ability to move the chair in close to the desk.

One should opt for a chair with a five-point base for stability and ease of movement.

Hence, ensuring the health and safety of workers in the workplace is a shared responsibility between PCBUs and employees,

How can Anitech Help?

Anitech understands the value of a healthy and productive workplace.

A collaboration with Anitech can help businesses with workplace and safety consulting to set-up of a safe workstation and assist on choosing the right ergonomic products.

We provide economical and effective ergonomic assessments tailored to an organisation’s needs.

Our consultants can ensure both organisations and employees for the guidelines outlined by Safe Work Australia to create safe health-promoting workplaces.

For a customised ergonomic assessment, call us today at 1300 802 163 or e-mail – sales@anitechgroup.com

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