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8 Misunderstood Facts About Ergonomics

01 March 2024

Did you know that how you sit at your desk all day can impact your health? If not, then you're in for a surprise because ergonomics is a field of study that covers just that. Ergonomics ensures that the objects and environment around us fit our bodies, and vice versa, to optimize our health and comfort. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand some key concepts about ergonomics, which can lead to discomfort and injury.

What Is Ergonomics and Why Is It Important?

Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their environment. It covers everything from the design of office furniture to the layout of car controls. The goal of ergonomics is to reduce stress and fatigue and to help people work more efficiently and comfortably.

Regarding office work, ergonomics is essential because many people spend most of their day at a desk. Poor ergonomic design can lead to many problems, including neck pain, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and eye strain.

The History of Ergonomics

The word "ergonomics" was first coined in the 1950s by a Polish scientist named Wojciech Jastrzębowski. However, the concepts of ergonomics have been around long before that. Some historians believe that the ancient Egyptians were among the first to practice ergonomics, as they designed their tools and buildings to be comfortable and efficient.

Over the years, ergonomics has evolved into a science with its principles and guidelines. Organizations such as the International Ergonomics Association and the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics promote ergonomic awareness and education.

8 Misunderstood Facts About Ergonomics

Despite all the effort that has gone into promoting ergonomics, there are still many misconceptions about what it is and how it works. Here are 15 of the most commonly misunderstood facts about ergonomics:

1. Ergonomics Is Only About Chairs and Tables

While ergonomic chairs and desks are important, they are just one part of the equation. Ergonomics also considers things like lighting, computer monitors, and keyboard placement.

For example, ensuring your computer monitor is at eye level is essential. You'll likely find yourself straining your neck or eyes to see the screen if it's too low or too high. Likewise, the keyboard should be placed, so your hands are comfortable typing.

2. Ergonomics Is Only for People with Disabilities

Some people think that ergonomics is only relevant to people with disabilities. However, this isn't the case. Ergonomics can benefit everyone, regardless of whether they have a disability or not.

Of course, ergonomics is essential for people with disabilities because they often have difficulty finding furniture and equipment that fits their needs. However, minor changes to how everyone works can make a big difference for people with disabilities.

For example, installing adjustable keyboard trays and monitor arms can make it easier for people in wheelchairs to use a computer. Likewise, providing ergonomic training for all employees can help them learn how to adjust their workstations to accommodate their colleagues with disabilities adequately.

3. You Don't Need Ergonomics If You Don't Have a Problem

Just because you don't have a problem doesn't mean you don't need an ergonomic assessment. In fact, it's often a good idea to get an assessment even if you feel comfortable at your current workstation. This is because an ergonomic assessment can help identify potential problems you may not be aware of.

For example, you may not realize that your chair is too low until an ergonomist points it out. An ergonomic assessment can also help you find ways to improve your workstation, even if you already feel comfortable there. For example, the ergonomist might suggest a different way to arrange furniture or equipment.

4. Ergonomics Is Always Expensive

Most people erroneously assume that ergonomic furniture and equipment are always expensive. However, this isn't necessarily the case. While some high-end ergonomic products are on the market, plenty of affordable options are also available.

For example, you can find plenty of ergonomic chairs for bargain prices. Likewise, there are many affordable keyboard trays and monitor arms available.

Also, if you look at the costs as an investment, you will quickly realize that ergonomic furniture and equipment can save you money in the long run. This is because they can help you avoid injuries, which can be both costly and time-consuming.

Of course, sometimes you don't need to spend any money to make your workstation more ergonomic. Simple things like adjusting your chair height or using a pillow for lumbar support can make a big difference.

5. You Have to Be Comfortable to Be Ergonomically Correct

This is a common misconception because people assume that ergonomics is all about comfort. However, this isn't necessarily the case. While ergonomic furniture and equipment can undoubtedly make your workstation more comfortable, comfort is not the only goal of ergonomics.

The main goal of ergonomics is to reduce strain and fatigue. This is important because strain and fatigue can lead to injuries. So, even if you feel comfortable at your current workstation, it may not be ergonomically correct.

For example, you may use a keyboard tray that is too low for your chair height. This can cause you to hunch over your keyboard, leading to neck and shoulder pain. Likewise, you may be using a too high monitor, which can cause eye strain.

So, while comfort is essential, it's not the only thing you should consider when setting up your workstation.

6. Once You Have an Injury, It's Too Late for Ergonomics

This is another common misconception because people assume that ergonomics is only vital for preventing injuries. However, this isn't the case. Ergonomics can also help you recover from an injury.

For example, using an ergonomic chair can help you recover more quickly if you have a back injury. Likewise, if you have a wrist injury, using an ergonomic keyboard tray can help you avoid further strain on your wrist.

Of course, it's always best to prevent an injury in the first place. But if you get injured, don't assume that ergonomics can't help.

7. You Don't Need to Worry About Ergonomics If You Have a Fancy Chair

This is another common misconception as people mistakenly believe that expensive furniture automatically makes it ergonomic. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, the material used on the furniture piece can outweigh the design costs, leading you to literally own an expensive pain in the neck.

So, don't assume you don't need to worry about ergonomics just because you have a fancy chair. Even if your chair is ergonomic, it's still crucial to set up the rest of your workstation correctly.

8. Ergonomics Is Only for Office Workers

Many think that ergonomics is only relevant to people working in an office setting. Yes, ergonomics is highly effective in the office setting. But it can be applied to any environment, whether it's an office, a factory, or even your own home.

In many ways, the home is a more challenging environment for ergonomics than the office. This is because people have to contend with various tasks and activities in their homes, from cooking to cleaning to working on the computer. Plus, most people don't have the luxury of customizing their home environment to meet their specific needs in the same way they can in an office setting.

That said, you can still do some things to make your home more ergonomic. Here are a few tips:

1. Make sure your work area is appropriately set up. If you work at home, ensure a designated work area with a comfortable chair and desk. The computer should be at eye level, and the chair should be adjustable so that you can comfortably sit with your feet flat on the floor.

2. Use good posture when cooking or cleaning. Many people don't realize that they need to use good posture when cooking or cleaning, but it's essential to do so if you want to avoid pain and fatigue. Keep your back straight and your arms close to your body when doing these activities.

Motorized Aesthetic Sit Stand Workstation EM6M

One of the best practices you can adopt to prevent musculoskeletal or repetitive stress injuries is to change your working position from time to time. The Motorized Aesthetic Sit Stand Workstation EM6M allows you to do that.

This smart workstation allows you to raise and lower your desk by pressing a button using the convenient touchscreen control panel. The X-shaped base and gas spring system make it easy to adjust between sitting and standing modes.

The 3 USB Charging Ports make it easy to charge devices quickly, so you don't have to bother with wall outlets or tangled cords below your desk. The wireless Charging Pad allows you to charge your devices without any cords. There are also predrilled holes to allow you to install a dual monitor mount.

Final Thoughts

Ergonomics is a misunderstood concept, but it's crucial for office workers and people who work in other settings. Don't assume that ergonomics only applies to office workers or that it's only relevant if you have fancy furniture. Take the time to learn about ergonomics and how it can help you prevent pain and injuries. Additionally, consider investing in some ergonomic furniture or accessories for your home office.