Ergonomics problems cost Singapore $3.5 billion a year

Posed photo of a man with a medicated plaster pasted on his back. Stiff necks from bad posture at work, strained backs from lifting boxes and numb wrists from too much typing - these and other ergonomic health issues cost Singapore a whopping $3
Posed photo of a man with a medicated plaster pasted on his back. Stiff necks from bad posture at work, strained backs from lifting boxes and numb wrists from too much typing - these and other ergonomic health issues cost Singapore a whopping $3.5 billion a year, said the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM 

Stiff necks from bad posture at work, strained backs from lifting boxes and numb wrists from too much typing - these and other ergonomic health issues cost Singapore a whopping $3.5 billion a year, said the Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Council.

Ergonomics is the study of how workers interact with equipment and the environment, and bad ergonomic practices can lead to "work-related musculoskeletal disorders" affecting muscles, tendons and nerves.

To help firms tackle this issue, the Council on Thursday launched a set of guidelines on improving ergonomics in the workplace. These include tips on how to lift heavy objects safely and good office workstation design.

The Council is also developing an e-learning module on awareness of ergonomic problems. Firms which want to redesign their workplaces for better ergonomics can apply for funding under the Government's WorkPro scheme.

From this year, back injuries due to ergonomic risks - such as carrying heavy loads - will also be classified under "work-related musculoskeletal disorders" in the annual WSH statistics. Previously, they were just classified as minor injuries.

Including back injuries in this category "will give us a more complete picture of the injuries caused by poor ergonomic practices and increase awareness on the ground as well," Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Manpower Hawazi Daipi said at the Workplace Ergonomics Forum on Thursday.

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