Ergonomics and innovation: Why industry can do better

2.3 million Canadians experience musculoskeletal diseases annually at a cost of $26B

Ergonomics and innovation: Why industry can do better

There is a symbiotic relationship between ergonomics and innovation and that connection was explored in detail by Adeeta Marie Bandoo, corporate director for environmental health and safety and global compliance assurance lead with Stanley Black & Decker.

"Both ergonomics and innovation can contribute to the success of the user as well as the providers,” says Bandoo, who explained how the collaborative nature of ergonomics and innovation work hand in hand to design products that meet the needs and preferences of users.

But Bandoo says many industries overlook the importance of ergonomics. "Introducing ergonomic design for workstations is not being utilized effectively in some organizations.” This observation highlights the need for greater awareness and implementation of ergonomic principles to ensure the well-being of employees.

Highlighting the scale of the issue, Bandoo shared data from Statistics Canada, stating, "2.3 million Canadian adults experience musculoskeletal diseases annually, costing $26 billion." These numbers underscore the economic and human impact of musculoskeletal disorders, further emphasizing the urgency of implementing ergonomic tools and practices.

Bandoo was speaking during a session at the Safety Innovation Summit last week, and focused on the correlation between ergonomics and innovation, stressing how these two elements can significantly contribute to the well-being and productivity of employees.

"Ergonomics is the science of fitting the workstation to the worker," elaborates Bandoo, underscoring the importance of creating work environments that are tailored to the individuals who occupy them. This approach ensures employees can perform their tasks comfortably and efficiently.

Bandoo says the pandemic brought about an increase in musculoskeletal diseases (MSDs). "Ergonomics is very important to us, especially coming out of a pandemic." She highlighted the increase in issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, bursitis, and trigger finger, observed during the pandemic.

Bandoo says, "utilizing innovation can lead to a reduction in ergonomic-related injuries." By incorporating innovative products and technologies, businesses can create safer work environments that minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies have a significant role to play in moving ergonomics forward. "AI and intelligent tools are playing an important role in improving ergonomic workstations." Bandoo says these technological advancements provide valuable assistance in assessing and optimizing ergonomic conditions.

Bandoo points to exoskeleton personal protective equipment (PPE), which is currently being used to reduce MSDs in the workplace.

Bandoo presented examples of innovative products such as stacker chippers, die cuts, and cantilever racking systems that can help reduce ergonomic risks. These solutions were showcased as practical implementations of ergonomic principles aimed at minimizing the risk of work-related injuries.

"As health and safety professionals, we need to introduce ergonomic tools and foster creativity and innovation within our workplace," says Bandoo, recognizing the crucial role they play in improving employee well-being and productivity.

By prioritizing ergonomic design, implementing innovative solutions, and leveraging emerging technologies, organizations can create safer and more productive work environments.