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Webinar presented methods of lightening the workload

Why should you invest in ergonomics? What good practices are there at workplaces to support healthy and flowing work? How is the individual taken into account in the planning? What kind of solutions have been implemented in practice?

The webinar Healthy and Fluent Workplaces –
Results through Design held on 3.6.2021 sought answers to these questions. The
webinar was organised by the Centre for Occupational Safety as part of the
Healthy Workplaces campaign coordinated by the Institute of Occupational Health
in cooperation with the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. The
methods for lightening the load will be highlighted during the campaign years

The campaign expands the traditional physical
perspective on ergonomics and also lightens the load in the mental, social and
cognitive sense. Studies have demonstrated that excessive cognitive load, being
unsatisfied with work, too demanding work and lacklustre opportunities for
having an impact at work increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

disorders are the most common work-related ailments and they result in costs of
billions of euros every year. According
to the European Working Conditions Survey 2019, three out of five employees had
musculoskeletal problems. 

The webinar was inaugurated by Minister of
Social Affairs and Health Aino-Kaisa Pekonen.

“Costs of musculoskeletal disorders can be
reduced with sound and early human-centred planning”, Pekonen said.  Pekonen stated
that we must know how to identify those factors that cause work-related stress
for the employee. The workplace needs expertise in occupational health and
information concerning humans.

“Working life is changing. Sound planning
allows us to anticipate and manage the changes and enables a good workplace and
working life for everyone”, Pekonen said in summary.

In her address, CEO Elina
from HumanProcess Consulting pondered about how ergonomically
sound and productive work is created.

Parviainen compared
the design of ergonomics to house building, which is impossible without a plan.
The planning of ergonomics must take into account the physical, cognitive and
organisational aspects of ergonomics. The planning of physical ergonomics pays
attention to such factors as work postures and movements. Cognitive ergonomics
consists of mental processes such as observation and memory. Organisational
ergonomics pays attention to the design, organisation and scaling of work.

Parviainen highlighted
knowledge-based management: facts about stress factors are required so that
workplaces can make the required decisions in the planning stage.

operations and facts about work and ergonomics enable knowledge-based
management and ergonomically sound work”, summarised Parviainen.

Trade Union
Pro’s working life and equality specialist Tanja Luukkanen used her
address to present the guide titled Healthy and Productive Work Environment in
Industry produced by the industrial work group of the Centre for Occupational
Safety.  The publication describes
ergonomics from the perspective of a safe and productive production

Tanja Lukkanen emphasised the
inclusion of all aspects of ergonomics when designing the ergonomics of a
production environment.

When work is
as safe and healthy as possible it flows more fluently, which improves both
efficiency and quality. “When an employee is able to work ergonomically, they
make fewer mistakes. This improves quality and work efficiency,” said

She reminded
us that making corrections to an existing operating environment is difficult
and expensive. The ergonomics aspect must be already taken in the account in
the initial planning stages, and the design work should harness everyone’s
expertise, including that of personnel.

designer Matias Halmeenmäki from Sitowise presented a manual for
designing anticipatory working conditions and environments. The manual was
commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and created by
Sitowise as part of the project The Human in the Design of Work and the Work
Environment (Ihminen työn ja työympäristön suunnittelussa). The project is
based on the Ministry’s strategy and policies related to work environments and
occupational well-being that are in effect until 2030.

The Human in
the Design of Work and the Work Environment manual includes all aspects of
ergonomics: organisational, cognitive and physical ergonomics. Looking at all
the aspects simultaneously in the planning stage helps prevent and manage

The purpose
of the manual was to produce a low-threshold tool for designing anticipatory
and interactive working conditions and environments. The manual was created for
designing specialist and office work but it can also be applied at other

To conclude
his address, Halmeenmäki highlighted the fact that everything begins with the
work and the demands set by it. “We want to adapt the work environment to the
work and the doer of the work”, Halmeenmäki said to summarise.

Advocate on
the move and actor Kristo Salminen has become a messenger of the Adults
on the Move programme. In his address Salminen talked about the health problems
he experienced in his “busy years”. At their worst his back problems and pains
sent Salminen to the hospital.

The health
problems also ignited a new spark in him to exercise and maintain his physical
fitness. With the help of a good coach Salminen gained experiences of success
in exercising and got rid of the pain.

“I am now on
my fourth or fifth year without the pains”, Salminen said as he described the
results of his regimen.

manager Mika Nyberg from the Institute of Occupational Health spent his
address talking about the procurement of tools. “The procurement of tools is
often neither complicated nor expensive, yet it improves the fluency of work”,
Nyberg said.

emphasised the role of planning in procurement. He said that the procurement of
machines and tools is a process during which the future use situation takes
shape. To ensure a high-quality end result in terms of ergonomics, matters must
be solved at the right time and using the appropriate methods. When setting
design goals and in the design work itself one must cooperate with the
different personnel groups of the company.

procuring tools you can ask for input from the users: ask them about their
feelings and ideas about how easy or smooth something is to use, or how
stressful it is, for example”, said Nyberg.

Designer and
design lead Heta Kangasniemi from Exove gave a presentation on the design
of digital services. According to her, customers most often wish that their
digital services would be clear and easy to use. When building a service,
maintaining balance between the organisation’s goals and the user’s perspective
is crucial.

“Users provide
invaluable information on the everyday operations of the workplace. While we
are building the service, we hear from the users.”

In addition
to systematic implementation, a clear and easy-to-use digital service requires
a design process where the end user is allowed to participate, the problem in
question is understood and testing is done early and repeatedly.

emphasised accessibility in the design of digital services. Accessibility makes
the use of digital services possible and pleasant for everyone.

The safety,
health and environmental manager of Nestle Finland’s baby food factory in
Turku, Otto Kuisma, also serves as the factory’s occupational safety
officer. Kuisma talked about the practical steps that have helped the factory
achieve reductions in musculoskeletal disorders.

the period 2005–2013 over one half of all sickness absences at the Turku
factory were caused by musculoskeletal disorders. In 2014 the company’s management group began to look into the
matter and set out to reduce the risk factors using many different

included setting shared goals and closer cooperation with occupational health
care providers.  Cooperation and
communication efforts between employees and the employer were also stepped up.
Meeting practices of the different departments were improved. The annual clock
of occupational well-being was introduced.

The factory
began surveying the working conditions of departments and work stations. These
surveys focused on such aspects as ergonomics, noise, dust and chemicals.

support was made available to employees. The factory has also conducted
surveys, training sessions and monitoring in cooperation with occupational
health care. Methods for lightening the workload were implemented. Tools that
made the work lighter were purchased. The factory’s employees were involved in
the planning of the acquisitions. In addition to physical ergonomics, cognitive
and organisational were also improved and breaks have been lengthened. An early
care model was adopted.

The factory
constantly monitors the efficiency of the measures. The results have been
positive. The in-house index monitoring job satisfaction has risen.  The share of sickness absences caused by
musculoskeletal disorders has dropped significantly.

“When you are
healthy you can work safer”, Kuisma said to summarise.

All the addresses were summed up
by Tarja Kantolahti, a special adviser from the Ministry of Social
Affairs and Health. In her speech she expressed the wish that in the future the
fluency of work and the design of work and the work environment would be
improved. “I expect that in the future ergonomics will be discussed in all its
aspects simultaneously: physical, cognitive and organisational.”

Kantolahti also encouraged
workplaces to both make use of existing information and compile information
specifically for the needs of the workplace. This results in well-being and

To conclude the event, specialist Päivi
talked about the Healthy Workplaces campaign of the European Agency
for Safety and Health at Work, and the Centre for Occupational Safety’s role in
the campaign.  The Centre
for Occupational Safety serves as the national coordinator of the Healthy Workplaces – Lighten the Load
2020–2022 campaign.

The Centre for Occupational Safety communicates, produces
and disseminates information and tools to workplaces so that they can lighten
the load. The goal is to ensure that workplaces have enough expertise in the
prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.

“Let’s roll up our sleeves and design
work that is safe and healthy for all of us”, Sarmala said to conclude the