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5 Ergonomic Problems and Their Practical Solutions for Office Employees

21 July 2023

Over the last several years, there has been an ever-increasing focus on improving workplaces for employees. Modern-day employers encourage an office setup that allows employees to work with distractions and compromise their health.

However, despite all the measures, specific ergonomic hazards can still significantly impact your health over time.

According to statistics, workplace injuries associated with poor ergonomics account for 400,000 injuries annually, and the direct cost of musculoskeletal concerns is over $20 billion annually. In contrast, the indirect costs of lost productivity are estimated to be five times the direct cost.

The numbers are alarming. Together, they can have a severe impact on the company's bottom line as well as the quality of life of employees.

However, the positive news is that with the right work practices and training, organizations can significantly lower the cost of work-related injuries. Moreover, they can contribute to making workplaces safer for employees. And that's why we share the most common ergonomic problems at the workplace and their practical solutions in this post.

Let's look at 5 common ergonomic problems and their practical solutions so you can enjoy better employee health and productivity and improved organizational bottom line while the employees can enjoy better health and quality of life.

5 Most Common Ergonomic Problems and Their Solutions?

Regardless of industry, some of the most common ergonomic problems that need to be addressed to prevent an injury from occurring in the first place include the following.



#1. Not Maintaining a Neutral Posture

The human body is designed such that it functions best when in a neutral position.

But only a few individuals are aware of what a neutral body position means.

A neutral position refers to a body position where your body naturally assumes a posture that aligns with the acting gravitation force. In a neutral position, all your joints, muscles, tendons, and skeletal system are relaxed, reducing the risk of a musculoskeletal injury.

In simple terms, maintaining a neutral position is all about maintaining the right angles of your body. Consider your body to maintain an L shape with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed to the sides. Moreover, your hips should be aligned, and your upper thighs make a right angle with your upper body and lower legs as the knees also bend to support your upper body. Lastly, both your feet should be firmly placed on the floor.

Solution: How to Maintain a Neutral Body Posture?

Now that you know what maintaining a neutral body posture means for you, you can incorporate sitting practices that allow you to maintain a natural L shape for your body.

You can also invest in ergonomic office equipment, such as an ergonomic office chair that allows you to adjust the chair’s height and depth so you can maintain an ergonomic posture. Essential Office chair (C3) makes one of the most reliable ergonomic chairs. Offering great adjustability features, this ergonomic office chair will help you maintain a neutral body posture while working.



#2. Musculoskeletal Injuries Due to Repetitive Motions

A significant portion of workplace injuries is associated with repeated movement. The ongoing, repetitive movements can wear your muscles, tendons, and nerves down. The repetitive movements can be something as trivial as answering phone calls or hammering a nail, but one of the most common repetitive injuries associated with a desk job is typing.

While typing itself may not strain your hand muscles, your hand position can cause strain on your hands which over time can lead to stress and pain. Some of the most common repetitive strain injuries of the hands include tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Solution: What Measures to Take to Lower the Risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries?

Fortunately, there are several measures that you can take to lower your risk of repetitive strain injuries of the hand.

One of the favors you can do to yourself is to switch tasks after a specific time interval. When it comes to preventing repetitive strain injuries, it's best that you switch tasks so that the muscle group which was under use gets some rest and is recharged for the next job. Moreover, it will also help your muscles recover following a period of activity.

Another practical solution to solving this problem is to invest in ergonomic office accessories like an ergonomic keyboard and a vertical ergonomic mouse. With ergonomic accessories at your desk, you can reduce your risk of injury from repetitive motions. However, investing in ergonomic accessories doesn't mean your hands do not need a break, so make sure you give your muscles a break they need to recover.



#3. Awkward Posture

This ergonomic problem at the workplace is closely related to the first problem of the inability to maintain proper posture. While the first one is a pressing concern, putting your body in an unnatural, awkward position, such as twisting, bending, and overreaching, is another common cause of work-related health concerns. Awkward postures at work, past the usual range of motion, leave you susceptible to ergonomic injuries.

Some examples of awkward postures at work include slouching or bending over the screen or overstretching your arms to operate the keyboard or mouse.

Solution: How to Avoid Awkward Postures at Work?

The solution to avoiding awkward postures at work lies in optimizing your workstation. So the next time you go to your workplace, ensure that your workstation is ergonomically appropriate.

Ensure that the height of your monitor is at your eye level and your height is appropriately adjusted so that you can maintain your body in an L shape.

Moreover, also ensure that your workspace is clearly divided into work zones with the most frequently needed items placed well within arm's reach. If you need to twist and turn, swivel your chair instead of turning your body from your waist.

Lastly, if your job requires the use of a phone, make sure you use the speaker function of the phone instead of holding the phone in your hand or between your head and shoulder, as it can strain your neck muscles.



#4. Being in the Same Position

According to research, the human body isn't designed to stay in a stationary position. Being in the same position for an extended period can increase your risk of musculoskeletal injury. Beyond musculoskeletal ailments, prolonged sitting is the leading cause of metabolic condition Type II diabetes and increases your risk of obesity.

Being in the same position is one of the most pressing concerns in modern-day work settings. However, it is something that one can manage by trying out the following measures.

Solution: How to Avoid Being in the Same Position for Extended Periods

The solution to this common ergonomic workplace problem lies in adequate movement. You should incorporate short breaks into your everyday work routine. You should take a short break (40 seconds to 5 minutes) after every 30 minutes of sitting. During this break, you can get up and take a quick walk, grab a glass of water or say hello to your colleague.

By incorporating microbreaks into your work schedule, you can manage your risk of developing musculoskeletal injury and can even lower your risk of premature death.



#5. Poor Lighting

One of the modern-day workplace concerns contributing to ergonomic problems is poor or inadequate lighting.

When the lighting in your workplace isn't appropriate, it results in shadow formation, glare, and unwanted dark spots. Moreover, it can also negatively impact your mood, vision, and even productivity.

Solution: How to Ensure Good Lighting Ergonomics?

The solution to this ergonomic problem lies in ensuring that there is appropriate lighting in the workplace.

You can try the following measures to ensure good lighting ergonomics at your workplace.

Maximize the use of natural light by arranging your office set up accordingly,

Ensure that there's adequate overhead and task-specific lighting in your immediate workspace,

Work around a combination of direct and indirect lighting to minimize shadow,

Place your chair at 90o degree angle from big windows in your room to reduce glare,

Use optimal screen settings for lighting contrast and good color,

Use screen filters to manage blue light and glare.

Solving Workplace Ergonomic Problems – Is it Worth the Cost?

Ergonomic problems still persist in modern-day workplaces. Fortunately, all these problems can be solved by taking appropriate ergonomic measures.

But is solving workplace ergonomic problems worth it?

Absolutely!

Implementing ergonomic workplace solutions may cost your business, but it will help you save direct and indirect costs in the long run, which will reflect in an improved bottom line for your organization and improved quality of life for your employees.