Ergonomics: Funny Word, Serious Workplace Safety Issue

Posted by Practice Management Institute on Sep 16, 2021 5:23:42 PM
Practice Management Institute

With all the major stressors involved in practice management, it's easy to lose sight of an obscure issue like ergonomics. But studies like this one in the Journal of Preventative Medicine and Hygiene (JPMH) have shown that time spent evaluating the health and safety of your team's workstation will help improve mental acuity and decrease physical stress and absenteeism.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the second most common cause of disability in offices. These disorders involve the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and joints, and are responsible for up to 50 percent of all work-related ailments and work absences of three or more days. A simple way to minimize this workplace stressor in your office is to encourage regular breaks and movement.

One of the many responsibilities of a medical office manager is to ensure a safe and healthy workplace. This includes managing employee risks such as MSDs by developing solutions to mitigate fatigue and productivity loss. If your practice does not already have an ergonomics process in place, then continue reading to learn a few tips on how to start one. 


Best Practices for Better Office Ergonomics

Everyone with a physical workstation in the office, from the providers to the clinicians and the medical office staff, is at risk of developing MSDs. Sedentary work can cause back pain, eye strain, wrist and hand discomfort.

Your staff needs your support in this critical time and you need them to help keep your practice running. Avoid absences and lost work time due to injuries that your medical practice can help prevent. Be conscious of this covert issue and support your staff with these strategies:

  • Provide management support - A strong commitment by management is critical to the overall success of an ergonomic process. Management should define clear goals and objectives for the ergonomic process, discuss them with their workers, assign responsibilities to designated staff members, and communicate clearly with the workforce.
  • Involve staff - A participatory ergonomic approach, where workers are directly involved in worksite assessments, solution development, and implementation is the essence of a successful ergonomic process. Workers can: Identify and provide important information about hazards in their workplaces; assist in the ergonomic process by voicing their concerns and suggestions for reducing exposure to risk factors; and evaluate the changes made as a result of an ergonomic assessment.
  • Provide training – Training ensures that workers can identify workplace hazards and ergonomic issues are aware of how to properly use equipment and machine controls, know the protocols for reporting early symptoms of MSDs before serious injuries develop, and understand how to report work-related injuries, according to OSHA.
  • Encourage early reporting of MSD symptoms – Early reporting can accelerate the job assessment and improvement process, helping to prevent or reduce the progression of symptoms, the development of serious injuries, and subsequent lost-time claims.
  • Implement solutions to control hazards – There are many possible solutions that can be implemented to reduce, control or eliminate workplace MSDs. Having an ergonomic workstation, for example, can help mitigate issues for workers that work at a desk for an extended period of time.
  • Evaluate progress – Established evaluation and corrective action procedures are required to periodically assess the effectiveness of the ergonomic process and to ensure its continuous improvement and long-term success. 

Effective ergonomics protocols can improve productivity, avoid illness and injury risks (and absenteeism), and increase employee satisfaction. 

Learn How to Develop a Safer Workplace

Creating a safer, healthier office environment involves more than ergonomics. Medical office managers need to be prepared to handle hostile and emergency situations such as workplace violence and fire prevention, and also remain compliant with OSHA, HIPAA, and Medicare standards and regulations. To receive expert instruction and current knowledge on safety topics, consider enrolling in PMI's CMOM course. The Compliance module covers all areas of risk in a medical office, to ensure your medical office team, patients, and practice are safe and compliant. 

Learn More and Enroll in CMOM


Topics: Practice management, medical office manager topics, medical office compliance, medical practice issues, osha, hazard communication

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