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Optimizing the performance of individuals by adapting the environment in which they must interact is fundamental to every occupational therapist. This field is called Ergonomics.

Ergonomics is the science of matching environments (work, home, public buildings, etc.) to fit the physiological (body functions), psychological, and cognitive capabilities of the individual. So the individual will be able to interact most efficiently and safely.

The surrounding environment might facilitate or hinder the individual’s daily performance. Therefore, occupational therapists not only focus on the health problems but also the environment. As they try to make the environment as suitable as possible with the individual’s physical and cognitive abilities. In addition, the skills and knowledge of occupational therapists in anatomy, physiology, and activity analysis make them highly qualified to work in the area of ergonomics, often within an interdisciplinary team. For individuals whose ability to perform their various life roles (e.g., worker) is affected by illness or injury, the occupational therapist is well equipped to facilitate the successful return to optimal performance through the use of education, intervention, and adaptation.


Occupational Therapy Role in Workplace:


Occupational therapists promote successful performance in the workplace by improving the fit between the employee, the job tasks, and the environment. They work with employers and employees to adapt or modify the environment or task, facilitate a successful return to work after illness/injury, and help prevent illness/injury which in turn facilitate productivity and satisfaction in the workplace. Through:

  • Assessing work environment to help optimize performance, reduce fatigue and prevent injury

  • Identifying risks within the workplace and providing recommendations on how to manage them 

  • Providing injury prevention workshops for groups of employees

  • Educating employees to independently identify risks and implement appropriate strategies and techniques

  • Conducting ergonomic assessments for employees recovering from injury and/or illness to prevent future injury

  • Modifying workplace tools, equipment, and the way of performing tasks to prevent injury


They also provide a wide range of workplace consultative services, such as:

  • Helping employers to comply with the accessibility standards and principles.

  • Evaluating and modifying tool and equipment design

  • Determining and reducing injury risk factors


Also, occupational therapists provide recommendations, which include:

  • Taking rest breaks

  • Performing stretching exercises especially for computer users

  • Recommending moving heavy objects by sliding rather than lifting them

  • Helping a worker organize tasks so that he can complete a job with less stress

  • Avoidance of bending to bring something from the floor instead use a squat position

Occupational Therapy Role in Home Environments:

As the home environment is a place where individuals spend most of their time and where they should feel safe, occupational therapists can promote safety in the home environment through:

  • Changing or redesigning the environment

  • Increasing accessibility by removing barriers

  • Placing the most used objects and tools within reach

  • Utilizing ergonomic (comfortable) products for easy living

  • Educating the individual about the proper and safe way of performing daily life activities


Occupational Therapy Role with Designers:

Occupational therapists help designers follow the universal design principles which include: 

  • The design should be suitable for all people regardless of their abilities and education level

  • The design should require less physical effort to avoid feeling tired or fatigued

  • The design should be in a suitable size and shape


Where to Find Occupational Therapists Specializing in Ergonomics?

Occupational therapists working in ergonomics may be employed by or contracted with employers, insurance companies, medical facilities, consulting institutions, engineering institutions, or they may be self-employed. Unfortunately, till now there is no specialized area for ergonomics in Kuwait Hospitals.

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