Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ergonomics; Occupational Health Prevention

(Neglected subject of extreme importance)

Unfortunately there is no cure for any Occupational disorder

Fortunately all Occupational disorders are preventable

1. What is Ergonomics? It is the key for productivity of India.

Ergonomics has two wards in it. Ergo = work, nomics = economy; that means Ergonomics refers to working with ease & comfort. Ergonomics is an old science with lots of common sense, but completely neglected in developing countries. It means man-machine relationship. From shaving razor, petroleum drilling wells and platforms on ocean, car driver’s seat, butt of AK 47 rifle to computer workstations, everything needs safe ergonomics. Large numbers of health problems develop from inadequate ergonomics at work place. Globally, these problems are encountered keeping India on the top.

Dutch population 8%

Canadian Population 20%

American Population 35%

Indian Population 44%

2. What are the implications of wrong ergonomics on human health?

Incorrect ergonomics leads to incorrect posture → leads to undue strain of human musculo-skeletal system → leads to early diseases like Cumulative Trauma Disorder, Early Disc-disease, Joint strain, early Spondylosis and Hypertension. Wrong ergonomics always result in

1. Muscular pains

2. Neurological pains

3. Deformities in the spine (disturbance of spinal dynamics).

Indians suffer from 44% of occupational hazards; out of which 30% are due to lack of understanding of safe ergonomics both at work place and domestic areas. Let’s examine three case studies to understand the implications of ergonomics developing into serious medical problems.


One milk vendor drives a scooter daily with milk cans but his scooter handle pulls one side because of unequal weight of milk cans tied both side of the scooter. This pulling of handle towards one side puts lot of demand on muscles on one side the body to maintain the balance. This man spent INR 1,00,000 till I examined his scooter & corrected it; by then he had uniform disc disease & disc prolapse.


23 years young engineer reported with severe back pain; surgeon without examining him about his occupation, asks for MRI, and then advice for disc surgery. Actually this boy had poor chair ergonomics with constant forward head posture; this has led to Straight Spine Syndrome an early occupational disease occurs in IT industry. This boy would have been operated, but was saved by few corrections at his workplace.


45 years man banker came with neck pain, but already operated on his neck by a neuro surgeon. Story was very simple he used bi-focal glasses and worked on system daily for 10 hours. Every time he had to lift his head and look at the monitor through the lower lens of spectacles for reading, which has led to severe disc strain in the neck. Reason, poor eye-monitor ergonomics. It is evident from these three cases, lack of understanding of ergonomics leads serious irreversible diseases.

What is computer workstation Ergonomics?

Ergonomics can go wrong easily with computer systems because, there are too many things to make a computer work station complete and every one works on it, things can go wrong places and angles. Apart from IT industries, almost everyone uses computer & related gadgets. Ask yourself these questions.

· How much should be your chair / table height?

· What should be the angle of back rest?

· What is the correct amount of brightness & contrast in your monitor?

· How much time one should sit at a time?

· What is the correct angle at wrist, elbow?

· What should be the posture of neck & back?

· What should be the glare, ventilation at table space, foot space adjustments at workplace?

· What is eye-monitor ergonomics & correction?

· What is Laptop Ergonomics?

Like these are some of questions need a clear answer, safety at work is inevitable.

Current education system and Ergonomics

Very few books in engineering / other courses mention about ergonomics, unfortunately subjects are not dealt with seriousness. One can imagine, 30% occupational health depends upon understanding and implementing ergonomics. This should be introduced in all educational courses especially to all engineering students from all branches and emphasis should be on practical application of the subject in day to day life.

Safe ergonomics helps in:

1. Increasing productivity (by decreasing man hour losses )

2. Decreases long term detrimental health effects of employees.

3. Designing machines & modifying

4. Designing working habits and workplace

In view of the above; It’s important that all the educational institutions, organizations & government authorities to incorporate these findings to avoid epidemic of incorrect ergonomics leading to serious occupational disease in future. This can be achieved by lectures, workshops & demonstrations on the following subjects.

1. Workstation ergonomics - in IT industry

2. Workstation ergonomics - Bank industry

3. Workstation ergonomics – Corporates

4. Lifting ergonomics – Mining & other industries

5. Ergonomic Industrial Hazards – All industries

6. Occupational Hazards in all industries

7. E-waste management

8. Students and ergonomics- at school / college levels

Prof Dr S Bakhtiar Choudhary has conducted many Original studies in India on IT to Mining industries. His studies are being referred as standards for future works. He discovered four new diseases related to ergonomics, posture and occupations.

1. Straight Spine Syndrome

2. Urban Neck Syndrome

3. Early Isolated Systolic Hypertension

4. Occupational Sacro-iliac joint Dysfunction

Please contact

Prof. Dr. S Bakhtiar Choudhary, D.Lit (Colombo), MD Sports Medicine (Switzerland), FMBSH (France), FMBHS (UK)

770A, Defence colony, Sainikpuri, Secunderabad-500094

Tel: +91 80081 23940

+91 98491 36940


: Website: http//: www.,