I recently attended a training class in which we practiced completing repetitive tasks, such as shooting bolts and screws, under a time crunch. The training tasks were ergonomically-designed; every job could be completed in a neutral posture and in the time provided.
What an eye opener! As an ergonomics expert, I understand the importance of neutral posture, but I found myself in awkward postures in my rush to get the job done before the timer went off. The trainer kept reminding me to relax my shoulders and straighten my wrists.
It’s easy to fall into “sloppy” postures when learning a new job, even if the job is ergonomically-designed. A new employee is focused on completing the job in the time limit with no errors, and may take posture shortcuts or simply be unaware of awkward postures. Awkward postures used during training may turn into bad posture habits that may cause discomfort and injury.
During the training period, it is important to teach new employees how to recognize awkward postures and replace them with neutral postures, so they develop good posture habits that will stick with them throughout their career. Here are some examples:
Awkward posture: Twisting the torso while lifting
Fix: Move your feet so that you are facing the load before lifting
Awkward posture: Tilting your head back to look up
Fix: Keep your neck straight and use your eyes to look up
Awkward posture: Sticking your elbow out and bending your wrist while holding a tool
Fix: Drop your elbow to your side and keep the wrist straight while using the tool
If these quick fixes aren’t possible, the job should be redesigned so that it can be performed with a neutral posture. However, even when the job is well-designed, it’s important to teach employees good posture habits that will benefit them in the long run.