Change of perspective
Ergonomics in the workplace means focusing on people; the work conditions are adapted to them and not the other way around. Regarding ergonomics, according to the Zahnärztlichen Mitteilungen magazine, after the IDS in 1971 experts “in Cologne in 1962 still had no ideas, in Stuttgart in 1965 it was pityingly laughed at as a fad, in Cologne in 1968 it was the focus of vigorously contested viewpoints and in Munich in 1971 it was recognized as a general body of thought.” And today?
At the last IDS as well as at other important international trade fairs in 2017, the focus was more on the machine – the digitalization of dentistry. Opinions on this are divided. There were definitely good examples of how digital technology can also support dental technicians in very specific ways during their routine tasks. This includes an innovative video microscope (EASY view 3D Dental Viewer, Renfert). It is an alternative to the stereo microscope, magnifying spectacles etc. and facilitates a healthier posture.
Health problem areas
The Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health names the following problem areas regarding the posture of dental technicians: the upper body is curved during general work and leans back slightly. For more delicate work the head tilt increases. In extreme cases, the head axis runs parallel to the floor, the viewing distance reduces partially to < 15 cm, the angle is tilted downwards > 38° to the horizontal plane. The movement space for the arms, the lighting etc. are also problematic. (1)
In particular, the classic microscope with fixed ocular position restricts the freedom of movement. A bent back, a rigid head / neck posture and an uncomfortable seat height are typical. The eyes have to be tensed up (and without spectacles) held to the eyepieces. The intensive light causes a tiring shrinkage of the pupils. The consequence of such stresses are strains, signs of fatigue and the associated increased error and failure rates.
That there are other ways of doing things, is shown by the exemplary EASY view 3D Dental Viewer, whose development was supported by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The basic version includes a camera unit with integrated daylight LEDS (5,000 K), a 3D monitor along with polarization glasses, mouse (control unit), foot switch (for screen shots) and a USB flash drive.
The dental technician has an upright seated position when working and looks in the direction of the monitor; the head and neck can be moved freely. There is a prevailing natural ambient light and wearing glasses is unproblematic. For viewing objects, routine processing and quality control there is a 15 x and a 20 x enlargement in 2D and 3D mode as well as four different object modes for a material-optimized image reproduction to choose from.
The back hurts, the eyes are burning… What does the dental technician do? He carries on… In the long term, all stakeholders pay the price for this. Absences due to illness present an enormous economic burden to businesses. Most of the medical certificates issued in 2016 were for musculoskeletal disorders, every second one of these for the back. Also, in over 20 % of all cases of occupational disability, the cause was in the skeleton and musculoskeletal system. Only employees who are healthy in an holistic sense can render the services necessary in a future-oriented business. Ergonomic work conditions have a significant proven effect on productivity and quality.