Welcome to the Safeti Podcast
‘What’s to know about Ergo?’ with Kirsty Angerer
In this episode we speak to the one and only Travelling Ergonomist, Kirsty Angerer. Kirsty has worked across the globe to become an expert in her field. We delve into the disconnect between workplace ergonomics and health & wellbeing, why you should make ergo part of your business strategy, we look at the conditions that are becoming a massive problem in the modern workplace and look at ways to avoid them.
If this sounds like it would be useful to you in your business, have a listen!
Kirsty Angerer – The Travelling Ergonomist – visit Kirty’s own website to see what she’s up to and to get help for your workplace ergonomics
Kirsty on YouTube – check out Kirsty’s video tips on how to avoid chronic injury by bringing ergonomic into your thinking both in and out of the workplace
HSE Ergonomomics Tool – try out the free workplace ergonomics tool available from the Health & Safety Executive that can help you manage ergo risk
You can read the entire show HERE
Here’s a taster of our discussion…..
Richard: Kirsty Angerer thank you so much for coming on to the safeti podcast and to talk about ergonomics today. How are you?
Kirsty: No problem thanks so much for having me .yeah great thanks.
Richard: Good good. as I say thanks for coming on the show and it’s great to have you know an ergonomic specialist coming on and sharing with us some information that can be shared with lots and lots of HSE professionals across the UK and beyond. So just as a means of introduction you’re the traveling ergonomist as you like to be known and you put lots of great content out there to help us in terms of looking into ergonomic issues in the workplace. So how did you actually get to doing this and tell us a wee bit about your background if you don’t mind.
Kirsty: So I guess a bit random. So I’ve always been quite a sporty kid and really into sport. Played every sport you know known to mankind really at school and really into design as well. So when I came across Ergonomics, I think I was about 16 when I was doing graphic design. I just found it really interesting and thought I’d pursue it. Because it kind of covers that and that’s me in physiology as well as the design aspect. So it fit perfectly for what I wanted to get out of it. So I studied ergonomics and human factors at Loughborough University for four years and in between I had one year you know on-site 12 months of kind of work experience. so absolutely wonderful and I’ve worked in London for five years and then nearly two years in Sydney Australia and then just moved back to the UK to start the traveling ergonomist.
Richard: Awesome. So you’re obviously getting around quite a lot then both in the UK and outside I take it.
Kirsty: Definitely yes I’m off to my next trip is Italy. So I am off to the International Ergonomics Association conference. Which is basically a week conference in Italy all about ergonomics and just bringing out the latest research and ergonomics. I’m obviously excited for the pizza and pasta.
Richard: Yeah can’t beat Italy for the food, not to mention the wine of course. so yeah it sounds like you have really good sort of reason for doing what you do and obviously it’s why you’re so passionate about it and in terms of for HSE professionals, we’re challenged with modern workplaces and the development of you know people sitting at desks as well as obviously you know physical work being a problem for MSK or musculoskeletal disorders. What do you see as the problem you know throughout your work then in general and can you paint the picture for us of what’s actually happening at the moment.
Kirsty: Yeah so well I guess the first thing to talk about is I felt for a while now, particularly last few years well actually I think it’s been a problem in the last few decades even before I became an ergonomist that ergonomics still presented as quite a boring gray you know feels like a chore to most people subject and I think that’s probably partly due to us ergonomist you know that we’ve presented it that way. we’ve presented it as a true health and safety issue and you know as I’m sure all your listeners believe you know for many people who are not in the health and safety industry wearing you know white coats and steel toe-caps shoes isn’t the highlight of their day. So I think ergonomics has kind of gone into that aspect of Health and Safety. When really it’s always been about optimizing human wellbeing and enhancing people’s performance. That’s really what ergonomics is all about and in this era of wellness where you know we’ve got gyms popping up everywhere and healthy eating yoga Pilates and wellness programs in corporate offices I think ergonomics really is seeing a shift and should really be part of that wellness aspect versus health and safety. Of course naturally its part of health and safety, of course it is and it always should be. But I think we need to present it as I guess a sexier subject.
Richard: A lot of people listening I’m sure their exposure to ergonomics per se depending on what industry they’re in might be restricted to sort of display screen assessments and that type of thing, that’s very limited. Whereas you’re talking about the performance aspect and I think from that point of view that you know whether or not you categorize it as health and safety or well-being or whatever, usually HSE professional’s position they’re going to have some influence or some say or responsibility as to how these things are dealt with. But from where I’m sitting I can see a really big opportunity here in terms of the actual body for the organization in terms of productivity and of course well-being and then therefore performance. so you know from what do you see why is ergonomic important for business and you know can you tell us a bit more about how you approach it and sort of convince businesses why they should look at it in more depth.
Kirsty: Yeah so I mean like I said you know ergonomics is all about well-being and improving performance and I think part of businesses issues are that they’ve never thought of ergonomics as a business strategy. They’ve just thought of it as this reactive process where if someone has back pain oh let’s get the ergonomist or health and safety professional in to do a quick DSE assessment and hopefully that will sort them out. When actually if you use economics as a business strategy and align it with the overall business strategy, you’re going to have a much better outcome. So you know if businesses, if their strategy is in January 2019 to increase revenue; which I’m sure most businesses want to do. Ergonomics can help with that business strategy. If your staff are healthy and working more productively and happier, of course it’s going to generate more revenue. That’s just you know a no-brainer really. so I think that’s the biggest thing that ergonomics can help with is more business strategy and I think that’s what we need to move and transition in towards as well and you know agile working now as well. Home workers travel regularly as well. they need to be part of this program too and health and safety professionals have such a big role to tackle and that they should be actually brought on board much much earlier on in the process I feel. I think hopefully I can speak for them a little bit. But as an ergonomist as well we’ve always brought on when someone has a problem. Whereas actually if you brought us on when we can actually add value and be proactive and stop issues from occurring, it adds so much more value.
Why are we talking about Ergonomics?
In 2016/17 there were approximately 507,000 (yes, 0.5 Million!) work-related musculoskeletal (MSK) disorder cases.
83% of these were related to the upper limbs, neck or back.
The HSE (UK) estimates that 8.9 Million working days were lost due to these MSK disorders.
Manual handling, awkward or tiring positions and keyboard work or repetitive action are estimated to be the main causes of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
For in-depth risk evaluation of a process or practice in your workplace, the HSE ART Tool is an excellent starting point. The ART system allows you to assess repetitive tasks in your workplace and the quantify the likelihood of upper limb disorders.
Early detection and treatment can be very effective in helping to prevent or reduce time off work. By encouraging an open reporting culture in your workplace, you can take a step in the right direction.
We have put together a 1-page toolbox talk (below) that you can also use to communicate the importance of early reporting to your workforce.
Ergonomics & Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention
Ergonomics & MSK Injury Prevention 264.6 KB