Case Study of Ergonomics Awareness among Library Staff of Two Universities in South-Western Nigeria

Article excerpt

Abstract

The study examined ergonomics awareness among library staff of two universities in south-western Nigeria. The purpose of the study was to investigate the level of awareness of ergonomics by the library staff, find out if they experience ergonomic symptoms and ascertain if there exist ergonomic education and other measures to ensure healthy and productive workforce. The respondents consisted of librarians, paraprofessionals, administrative staff and secretaries. A total number of 73 out of 94 library staff responded to the questionnaire giving a response rate of 77.7%.

Introduction

Libraries have been empowering people by offering resources, services and training to expand their knowledge for thousands of years. Aina (2004) noted the support of objectives of the University as the main purpose of a university library. Thus the historical development of university libraries has been influenced by the contexts in which the parent organizations operate. The vision, mission and strategies which are selected by universities as a guide for meeting the core functions of teaching, learning, research and providing community service form the foundation on which the role of the university library is based. Perceptions held by university's stakeholders on the role of the library as a contributor to these core functions, influence the environment within which the university library crafts its own mission and role (Raseroka, 1999). Librarians and library workers bring opportunity every day to the communities they serve. The daily routine and exertion especially in the librarianship of the 21st century usually impact adversely on the library services and the users.

Ergonomics, the study of how working conditions, especially the design of equipment and furniture, in order to help people work more efficiently, has assumed an importance in libraries with increasing incidence of musculoskeletal injuries (Currie, Ritmiller 8c Robinson, 1998). Failure to provide, or educate about, the proper ergonomie equipment, space, and work schedule/ behavior can result in injury. Injuries can result in loss of work and permanent disability. Injuries to wrists, arms, shoulders, upper and lower back, and eyes can result. Injuries can be caused by working too long at a task without a break or not knowing the proper way to sit at a workstation.

A study carried out by Tepper (2008) revealed that the issue of library ergonomics has been largely ignored. Research on library ergonomics has centred on library users, while studies addressing library staff have been limited in scope. When workers that are at a high risk for injury on the job are mentioned, library workers are not likely to be thought of. Yet library workers and anyone who works extensively with computers should consider their machines as potential occupational hazards.

Statement of the Problem

The knowledge and application of ergonomics is imperative to ensure healthy and productive workforce. This knowledge (ergonomics) appears lacking and accounts for the discomfort and health hazards plaguing the Nigerian library personnel. This study, therefore seeks to investigate the level of awareness of ergonomics on the part of library staff, the suitability of equipment they use in carrying out their daily routine and the measures put in place to prevent or reduce ergonomics.

Objectives

The objectives of this study are, to:

i. investigate the level of awareness of library staff concerning ergonomie issues

ii. ascertain ergonomics education and training for all library staff

iii. discover the ergonomie symptoms experienced by library staff and profound tentative solutions.

Scope of study

The study seeks to focus on two (2) purposively selected university libraries located in the south-western region of Nigeria. The first is a Federal University (University of Lagos) which is located in Lagos State, while the second is a private university, namely, Covenant University, located in Ogun State. …