Ergonomics and The Pharmaceutical Sector – What They Aren’t Telling You!

Ergonomics and The Pharmaceutical Sector

No matter what type of profession you are in, “Ergonomics” is never an unfamiliar term. Ergonomics is becoming synonymous with employee retention. Basically, if you have an ergonomic environment = you care about your employees and ensure they work in a healthy, safe, and comfortable way.

Designing and providing workplace furniture to fit the worker’s job is crucial to ensure consistency and productivity. And this does not imply particular workplaces but to all sectors. All industries need to invest in providing equipment and furniture that makes an employee’s work less of a physical strain.

For example, doctors define conditions for people who do desk jobs. It includes that the feet are rested on the ground or elevated by support, screens are at least 60 cm away from the eyes, the monitor is at eye level, and so on. It ensures less strain on the eyes, feet, and back. But talking about desk jobs is easy- what about employees who work on-site or do research jobs- like the ones in the pharmaceutical industry?

Let us dig a little deeper.

The Pharma Industry

Employees in the pharma industry are researchers and developers. These people sit on a stool for long hours, researching samples and scrutinizing things through a microscope. Their job is mentally challenging, and sometimes they forget the toll it takes on their body. 

For example, a researcher stooping and studying samples under a microscope realizes the strain on their neck when they straighten it and feels the pain. An employee with no leg room, because they sit on a high chair in front of a chest of drawers, have muscle pulls or tingling sensation in the feet. Thus, the problem with this sector is that people are so engrossed in their work that they forget to make themselves comfortable physically.

The Challenges 

So when the pharma industry is going through these challenging times of developing musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk at a higher level, why don’t they create a healthy ergonomics environment?

  • Well, the pharma industry has a very different work structure compared to the other sectors. Scientists work on special equipment requiring standing or sitting in particular postures. For example, some lab work involves extending arms underneath a plexiglass window. Now, this posture causes strain on the shoulders and the wrist but the work needs to be done that way, eh!
  • The machinery and equipment are so expensive that changing it ergonomically may prove financially daunting for the organization. 
  • Employees need to wear specific PPE and gear which restricts their movement and makes them sit, stand, or work in awkward positions.
  • The pharma labs need employees to work independently. Therefore there is a lack of knowledge sharing and understanding of ergonomics among peers. If one employee has had a strain on their wrist while performing a specific job, they cannot convey it to their peers due to the work conditions. Similarly, if some employee has found a way to perform a task without straining themselves, they cannot convey the same to their peers.
  • The pharma industry needs to have standardized processes to perform tasks. The researchers do the jobs according to their knowledge and procedures. This lack of standardization does not allow a comprehensive exit strategy or insightful metrics to avoid injuries in the workplace.

Therefore, if these challenges exist, how can the pharma industry adapt to the ergonomic culture? Does the solution exist?

Pharma and Ergonomics

The pharma industry can definitely invest and adopt an ergonomic culture. Though the above challenges may sound scary, there is always a way to emphasize employee health. Let us see what solutions can be interpreted by the pharma industry for ergonomics.

1. Workstations and Equipment

Though the equipment and workstations in the pharma industry cost a lot, they can be designed ergonomically. It may prove to be more investment than you thought, but it would be worth it. To take a simple example, if an employee who has been working for a decade leaves due to health issues, you need to hire a new one. Imagine the tedious task of training that you have to put in, along with the time and resources. Therefore, an ergonomic investment is a long-term one that ensures employee retention.

2. Ergonomics Program

Ergonomics also does not only mean that you need to buy furniture to suit your needs. If the employee is provided ergonomic training sessions regularly, even that could reduce the risk of injury and illnesses. For example, a stooping person should do some neck rotation, shoulder rotation, and stretching exercises in intervals to relax the muscles. Thus, an extensive ergonomics program helps employees understand the importance of correct posture.

3. A Comprehensive Platform

As we mentioned, the pharma industry requires staff to attend their jobs individually. Therefore there is less sharing about the jobs and challenges they face while performing them. A comprehensive platform must be provided wherein employees communicate about their jobs and the solutions and challenges they face. This will help them see the progress outside their workstations and find appropriate solutions to their challenges.

For example, an EHS portal can help employees to communicate seamlessly through their handheld devices in real time. This comprehensive platform enables employees to share information with pictures and videos and provides access to knowledge-sharing platforms.

The Benefits

The authorities, stakeholders, and investors are happy when the employees are productive. And employees are productive when they know the organization cares for them. Investing in ergonomics has many benefits for the employees and the organization. Some of them are;

  • Reduces medical costs by significantly decreasing workplace injury and illnesses.
  • Enhances employees’ productivity and product quality.
  • Increases employee engagement. 
  • Creates a better safety culture.
  • Boost team member morale.

The Conclusion

You may find that the investment in the ergonomics program may take a toll on the finances, but believe us, the ROI due to ergonomics is incredible. Organizations that have invested in ergonomics have said to cover the costs in a few years.

Just know that designing a work environment to encourage good posture, fewer exertions, and minimum physical strains paves the way for an efficient tomorrow. 

1 thought on “Ergonomics and The Pharmaceutical Sector – What They Aren’t Telling You!”

  1. Nice! thank you so much! Thank you for sharing. Your blog posts are more interesting and informative.

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