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5 Ergonomic Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

02 November 2023

Physical and mental exhaustion, pain in the body, irritability, and burnout at work are becoming increasingly common in employees who work 9 to 5. While a hectic routine and lack of personal time are common reasons, one of the biggest and often underestimated reasons is poor workplace ergonomics.

Your workplace is where you spend most of the day, every day, at least 5 days a week. That's pretty much most of your life. Your workplace conditions will, therefore, have a direct and notable impact on your physical and mental health.

Most people who experience body pain, especially in the back, neck, and shoulders, usually shrug it off. They take a painkiller if it is too much and don't give the root cause a thought. Medicines can offer pain relief, but it's not a sure-shot solution to the problem – which can become quite big if you continue to take it lightly.

You may not know this, but the pain and discomfort that you're experiencing at work may be due to certain ergonomic mistakes and poor ergonomic conditions. Knowing what these mistakes are will help you avoid them and ensure your health, safety, and well-being.



Signs That You're Making Ergonomic Mistakes

Many times, you don't identify a problem until it's too late. But the good news is that if you look closely, you might be able to tell that the problems you're experiencing are because of the mistakes that you're making. You don't develop the consequences of poor ergonomics overnight. Poor ergonomics affect you slowly and gradually; it takes a while before you start experiencing major problems.

The sooner you realize that most of your work-related health problems are because of your own mistakes, the sooner you'll be able to improve them and do your health a favor.

Below are some subtle signs of poor ergonomics that indicate that you need to look into the way you work:

Pain in the Neck, Shoulders, and Back

If you experience pain in the neck, shoulders, and back, especially in your lower back, every other day, the chances that you're making certain ergonomic mistakes are pretty high. If your workplace has excellent ergonomics and follows the correct ergonomic standards, you'll never experience any pain. You'll be absolutely comfortable at work. If you aren't comfortable, either it's your working conditions, or it's your practices that are to blame.

Fatigue

Another sign that you may not be doing everything right at work when it comes to workplace ergonomics is constant fatigue. You'll feel tired and exhausted at work and you'll just want the day to end so that you can go home and hit the bed! The fatigue won't just be physical, but it'll be mental too. You'll find it hard to concentrate, and this will make it hard for you to give your 100% at work.

Persistent Headache

If no day goes by when you don't get a headache, especially on the weekdays when you're working, it's highly likely that you aren't practicing correct workplace ergonomics.

Low Morale

If you observe poor morale at work and you don't feel like working at all, it's a sign that something's not right! It's usually poor ergonomic working conditions that cause discomfort and fatigue, and all of this eventually results in low morale and a lack of dedication at work.

Ergonomic Mistakes That You Didn't Know You Were Making

As we've already said in the beginning, a lot of problems that you're experiencing at work may stem from your mistakes. The only way to tell if it's your mistakes that are creating problems for you is by looking closely at how you work. By this, we mean how you're sitting, typing, bending, reading, and writing while at work.

We've listed some of the most common practices that not many realize are wrong, resulting in problems like neck, shoulders, and back pain, fatigue, morale, low productivity, and poor mental health.



1. Sitting on the Wrong Chair

One of the biggest ergonomic mistakes you may be making at work is using a chair unsuitable for your physique. Not all chairs are suitable for everyone. A chair is where you sit for several hours at a stretch. The right chair will encourage you to sit in the correct posture, and when you're seated in the correct posture, you're pretty much safe! You won't experience any sort of pain or discomfort that's usually associated with an incorrect posture.

What you need is an ergonomic chair like the Back Support Ergonomic Office Chair OC13 that's suitable for your physique. The chair you use at work should allow you to adjust the height enough to allow you to place your feet flat on the floor. It should have a flexible backrest to provide your back with the support it needs. You should also be able to adjust the seat depth so that your buttocks are fully and comfortably accommodated on the seat and the seat edge isn't budging into the back of your knees.



2. Using the Work Desk of an Incorrect Height

Another common ergonomic mistake that people make is using a desk that's too high or too low for them. If the work desk is too high, the user has to stretch their back and neck and place their arms on the desk's surface awkwardly. This puts excessive strain on the shoulders and back and results in pain. If the desk is too low, the user has to sit with their back bent and the head bending forward, which also puts strain on the neck, shoulders, and back and puts the user at a high risk of developing posture-related musculoskeletal disorders.

You can correct this mistake by using an ergonomic work desk. These desks come with an adjustable height feature that allows users to raise or lower the desk's height to suit their comfort and work in the correct posture.



3. Not Adjusting the Position of the Monitor

How often do you adjust the position of your computer monitor? Well, this is something that not many people do when everyone should do it every day before starting work. Ideally, your computer monitor should be at eye level, right in front of you, and at an arm's length distance. This ensures that you don't have to tilt or bend your head to see the computer screen. Titling and bending your head put a strain on the neck and shoulders and can result in neck and shoulder pain.

Moreover, if the computer monitor is placed too close or too far from you, it'll result in eye strain, leading to headaches, blurred vision, and even weakening eyesight.

You can reduce the risk of headaches and vision-related complications by using an adjustable monitor mount. An adjustable monitor mount allows you to adjust the monitor's height, angle, and distance to ensure it's positioned correctly.



4. Working in Poor Lighting

Another common ergonomic mistake that you might not know that you're making is working in poor lighting. Poor lighting doesn't only mean dim lighting. Lighting that's too bright is also considered poor. Poor lighting causes eye strain which can result in headaches and vision-related problems.

You should ensure that your workstation isn't directly in front of a window. Sitting in front of the window would result in sunlight shining directly onto your eyes, which can strain your eyes. Similarly, it would be best if you didn't work with your back directly towards the window. When light falls onto your computer screen, you'll have to put stress on your eyes to be able to see the screen clearly. Your workplace should have adequate overhead lighting. If your job requires you to read documents, you should use a task lamp to illuminate your work area adequately so that you don't have to put too much stress on your eyes.



5. Not Taking Breaks Between Work

Working a 9 to 5 shift doesn't mean you've got to sit at your work desk throughout the day. No matter how much work you've got to do, you must take short breaks between work. Not taking breaks is another common ergonomic mistake. Sitting in the same posture for long hours not only puts stress on the body and causes fatigue but also strains the eyes and exhausts you mentally. This results in irritability, poor productivity, and painful stiffness in the body.

Closing Word

The next time you're about to gulp a painkiller down your throat, wait for a second and think about why are you experiencing this pain? If the answer is any of the mistakes that we've listed above, you very well know what to do! You've got to improve the ergonomics of your workstation and start practicing ergonomic standards like sitting in the correct posture, positioning your computer screen correctly, and taking a 5 to 10 minutes long break every hour or two at work.

Correcting ergonomic mistakes at work will not only make you feel better at work, but you'll also feel fresher and more active and will be able to perform better!