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Affronte Ergonomic Solutions

So why should your organisation bother with ergonomics?

Ergonomics is in demand now for organisations to make the work environment fundamentally better for its employees and to reduce the risk of illness such as musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs), repetitive strain injury, fatal or non-fatal injuries to employees, stress, depression, and anxiety related illness, and to improve the overall working environment to promote satisfaction, improve efficiency and self worth of those who work in it. Its not all about profit and loss, but by addressing these issues you can improve productivity and profit naturally and have a happy and healthier work force with tax breaks revealed in the 2013 budget for such incentives not just fot getting people back to work, but with preventing stress and work related issues to prevent illness, so either way you are on to a winner.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) generally make more explicit what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Like the Act, they apply to every work activity.

The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggest that in 2011/12, 22.7 million days were lost due to work-related illness and 4.3 million due to workplace injuries. On average, each person suffering took around 17 days off work, 21 days for ill health and 7.3 days for injuries on average. Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 10.4 and 7.5 million days respectively. The average days lost per case for stress, depression or anxiety (24 days) was higher than for musculoskeletal disorders (17 days).


HSE Key annual figures 2011/12


  • 1.1 million working people were suffering from a work-related illness
  • 173 workers killed at work
  • 111 000 other injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR
  • 212 000 over-3-day absence injuries occurred (LFS)
  • 27 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • Workplace injuries and ill health (excluding cancer) cost society an estimated £13.4 billion in 2010/11


Affronte Ergonomic Solutions forms an integral part of Affronte Corporate Solutions, our team work together as independent practitioners of Stress and Ergonomics, specialising is the assessment of the work place, training, risk analysis, and usability across a variety of settings. We offer a practical and effective approach to applying human factors by using a holistic approach to any project, large or small in any location nationally and within Europe. Our team focuses on fulfilling clients' needs to provide them with answers for any ergonomics issues to reduce the incidence of accidents and work-related injuries, and to optimise safety, well-being and health. The benefits of this can lead to higher productivity, efficiency, improved quality and satisfaction within organisations, and reduce the risk of the scope of compensable injuries in workers' compensation. We work within the Standards set by the Health and Safety Executive.


What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics or Human factors as it is sometimes referred to, is the scientific discipline concerned with the practise of learning about human characteristics and then using that understanding to improve people’s interaction in their environment, the products and the systems they use, to make them easier to use, safer, more comfortable,  more efficient and reduce the risk of harm or injury to the users within it.The emphasis of  good ergonomics is the science of fitting the work to the user instead of  focusing on their limitations and forcing the user to fit the work. Because industry relies on human-centric for manual labour, line managers to run processes or administration to manage organisations, ergonomics concerns a well designed work places and ways of working which follow good ergonomic practise are the solution to good health and production. Work-related injuries are frequent, and most are avoidable when ergonomics are taken into consideration.  Also to consider now are demographic change and changes to the default retirement age aimed at encouraging people to stay at work longer and the effects of this.  Ergonomics has a large role to play in relation to objective assessment of physical and mental capacity, workplace design issues and work organisation.  We have the skills to uncover and identify the problems associated with occupational physical injury, and can work along side in-house occupational team to resolve a whole range of complaints.


Why is ergonomics important to work place health and safety?

The case for ergonomics is due to the increased rate of technical development of the recent decades which control more adequately the environments in which people work, which includes exposure to both, internal and external factors that within it. Predicating risk and being proactive is central to prevention.  If the design of a working environment is good it usually goes noticed because there is no cause to complain about it, but where there is cause for concern, this is where ergonomics or the Human factors can be used to understand and improve people’s interactions with the things they use and the environments in which they do so.  Ergonomics is now a widely accepted term worldwide and aims to improve efficiency, safety and wellbeing, it focuses on the evaluation of human work and the work system.  An integral part of ergonomics is interdisciplinary research activities based upon anatomy, physiology, psychology and operational activities.


How can the nature and measurement of stress at work be assessed?

There is an increasing belief in all sectors of employment that stress at work has undesirable consequences and this is reflected by the latest HSE findings for 2011/2012. Physiological and Psychological approaches conceptualises aversive or noxious characteristics of the work environment and the dynamic interactions between people in that environment.  Physiological and psychological responses to stress can be moderate but nonetheless can translate to poor performance, can affect the person’s social life and result in poor physical health. If a significant amount of people are experiencing the effects of stress, then the organisations itself is said to be unhealthy. Is can be documented by the availability for work, absenteeism,  turnover rate, poor time keeping, impaired work performance leading to poor productivity, an increase in customer complaints and potentially a higher rate of employee compensation claims.

Whilst it is universally accepted that optimum levels of stress can act as a creative, motivational force that can drive people to achieve incredible feats, chronic or traumatic stress is potentially very destructive and can deprive people of physical and mental health, and at times even of life itself. Stress in the workplace results from a miss match on the demands of a person and their knowledge and skills is insufficient to cope with those demands. The resulting confusion created when one feels totally out of control or out of their depth can lead to severe or chronic stress and stress related illnesses such as;

  •  High blood pressure/hypertension
  •  Strokes
  •  Heart attacks
  •  Headaches
  •  Diabetes mellitus
  •  Peptic ulcer disease
  •  Menstrual problems
  •  Musculoskeletal pain
  •  Increased vulnerability to infection and cancer
  •  Memory impairment
  •  Depression
  •  Anxiety
  •  Sexual difficulties


Methodology for Assessing Risk:

Quantitative and Qualitative Research: Ergonomics or human factors assess health and safety at work, to identify relevant guidelines, identify the risk of stress or strain and identify the key ergonomic factors that may be involved.  Ergonomics is the science of fitting the job to the worker, whether it is an anthropometric analysis of the work station or a survey of the environment. Affronte Corporate solutions can only help you improve what we can measure to achieve business enabling processes using a universal approach to risk management, a means bench marking and validating your existing procedures or being introduced to new approaches that are customizable to your organization. Quantitative research is the process of measurement that provides the fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. It could be done by observation of the environment and relevant data/history of events. The researcher analyses the data with the help of statistics to yield an unbiased result that can be generalized to some larger population. Qualitative research could be focus groups, and surveys where the researcher asks broad questions and collects word data from participants. The researcher then looks for themes and describes the information in themes and patterns exclusive to that set of participants.  By understanding the dynamics at the root causes for risk and stress, and applying approved guidelines and standards, we can help you to turn your weaknesses into strengths and add value to your products and services. By applying a simple subjective tool, we can quickly assess the Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats which can be external or internal factors.

Empirical Data analysis: The essence of risk managing is about maximizing the areas where we have some control of the outcome and minimizing the areas we have absolutely no control over and the linkage between effect and cause that is not apparent. Every business leader and manager will be conducive in this process to take pre-emptive steps to achieve the reduction of risk in the work place. This process has to be a numerical based system involving three elements, full information, relevant trials and the relevance of quantitative valuation. If there is no empirical data it would fall back to inductive reasoning which would mean trying to make an educated guess on the odds.

Threat assessment:

This is tools for strategic and non strategic assessments, mapping out priorities as to where the focus should remain and identify hazards and outcomes. The use of a comparative analysis is applied to simplify the results and to achieve a holistic view of the data for ease of use. Threat assessments, and sub analysis are employed to focus on the trends for potential threats and risks so we can then start a strategic process and engage executives to make decisions on the steps to take corrective solutions to negate threats.

Interpersonal aspects of the environment: The varied features of the workplace environment can have a profound effect on them, including the non-physical such as social, cultural, technological, political and economic characteristics of the environment which can impact greatly upon performance, social behaviour, attitudes, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, mental health and quality of life, physical health and well-being. There may be conclusions to be drawn about the actual building, luminaries, visibility, discomfort or disability glare, screen reflection, ventilation/heating/climate, noise levels, vibration/motion and orientation on the five senses etc which can be assessed to evaluate the effects on the individual. The interpersonal affects of the work place also include the evaluation of social behaviour of the office, communication skills, disturbances and distractions, the health in the office environments and basic design features some as movable furniture which can be relocated for ease of use and probably the most important aspect is the three levels of culture of the organization, artefacts, values and basic assumptions which are deeply entrenched within the organization.

It is the cultural beliefs that give rise to widely accepted norms of behaviour that can lead to resistance to change. This can be particularly problematic in this era or rapid and continuous change, were organizations have to be fast acting under conditions of chronic uncertainty.  Ergonomic practitioners work in partnership or with a multidisciplinary team and are sensitive to the nature of change and the invisible blocks that may not be apparent.


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