October 22nd, 2004

Sex Workers Get Ergonomics Guidelines

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Every occupation can benefit from ergonomics. So after New Zealand’s Prostitution Reform Bill was passed last June, decriminalizing prostitution in the country, the country’s Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) created a printed guide covering everything from cleanliness and injury reporting to ergonomics for workers in the sex industry.

The guide, titled A Guide to Occupational Health and Safety in the New Zealand Sex Industry, puts the responsibility on both employer and worker to create a safe and healthy work environment, both ergonomically and otherwise, for the country’s sex workers.

Specifically addressing ergonomics considerations in the “Overuse Disorders” section of the publication, the publication notes that like other industries, in the sex industry, “overuse conditions occur particularly among people who work in fixed or constrained postures, or who perform rapid repetitive tasks or use forceful movements.” Taking steps to limit the risk of injury associated with these types of conditions, either through workplace modifications and equipment modifications or through administrative means, should be a goal, says the guide, for both employee and employer.

Specifically, OSH offers New Zealand’s sex workers the following ergonomics-driven recommendations to help prevent work-related injuries:

  • Beds and workstations should support the worker’s back and allow for services to be performed without strain or discomfort.
  • Beds and massage tables should be adjustable to allow employees to use them without strain.
  • Employees should be trained for safe use of equipment and techniques.
  • Workers’ clothing should be comfortable and should not affect the employee’s posture.
  • Workers should take breaks between shifts and clients to avoid stress and fatigue.
  • Workers should alternate between repetitive and non-repetitive activities.

OSH also recommends that employers and employees together identify potential overuse situations and develop strategies to prevent them as well as train employees on how to avoid those situations.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Service of New Zealand (www.osh.dol.govt.nz)



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