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Your Ultimate Guide to Workplace Ergonomics

09 November 2023

Every other person is seen discussing workplace ergonomics. Individuals today prefer to work for employers who're working actively toward making their workplaces ergonomics-friendly. For this reason, many employers are setting aside a budget to ensure good workplace ergonomics.

But what exactly is ergonomics? In what ways do ergonomics affect us? Is the hype around ergonomics worth it? This blog post will answer all your questions related to workplace ergonomics. This is the ultimate guide that'll walk you through everything you need about workplace ergonomics.

What Do Workplace Ergonomics Mean?

Workplace ergonomics is the science of designing workplaces so that every employee's safety and comfort needs are met. It encompasses the workplace design, process flows, and the overall environment the employees work in to ensure they aren't at risk of developing any work-related injury or illness. An ergonomic workplace is where employees' health, safety, and well-being are safeguarded.

The Need for Good Workplace Ergonomics

You may wonder why there is even a need to spend money, time, and resources on improving the ergonomics around your workplace when you can make policies encouraging employees to ensure their own safety. After all, all employees working at your office are adults, and they should be able to take care of themselves, right? Wrong!

You may not realize, but there are plenty of workplace hazards that can put the health and safety of your employees at risk. You being the employer, will be held liable for any injuries or accidents that occur at your premises that could have been avoided if you had taken the right safety and precautionary measures. The safety of your employees is your responsibility.

Let's look at the numerous risk factors that your employees are exposed to at work that can jeopardize their safety and overall well-being, necessitating the need to work towards making your workplace ergonomics-friendly.

Strenuous Physical Tasks

Some jobs require individuals to lift heavy loads or do tasks that require excessive exertion of force. Doing these tasks routinely puts a load on the muscles and joints of the body, resulting in muscle fatigue which significantly increases the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Some common symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders include shoulder, neck, and lower back pain that can impair the employee's ability to continue performing these physically strenuous tasks.

Repetitive Tasks

If most of your employees work on their computers, you may assume they aren't at risk of injuries since their job doesn't require them to lift heavy objects or do any physically demanding tasks, but you're highly mistaken. Doing repetitive tasks like typing can put severe stress on the muscles and joints and can result in work-related injuries (Repetitive Strain Injuries). Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is the most common type of repetitive strain injury in people who've got to type a lot, for example. It's characterized by painful inflammation of the joints in the hands, making typing difficult and painful.

Incorrect Postures

One of the biggest, yet the most neglected, risk factors that can put your employees' health and safety at risk is sitting and working in incorrect postures. Most workplaces are equipped with conventional furniture and equipment. All employees are provided with the same office equipment without realizing that every employee is different and so are their comfort preferences.

Take office furniture, for example. Not all employees are of the same height or physique. Not all employees will be comfortable if you've got the same fixed work desks and office chairs for all employees. The desks and chairs may be too high or too low for some employees, resulting in them sitting in incorrect posture at work for several hours at a stretch. This will strain their bodies and put them at a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

Poor Lighting

Another risk factor that not many employers consider important is office lighting. If the lighting in your office is too bright or too dim, it can cause strain on the eyes. Prolonged eye strain can lead to headaches, migraines, and even the weakening of eyesight.

How Can You Improve Workplace Ergonomics?

If your employees aren't feeling their best at work, they won't be able to perform their best. What can you dread more than poor employee performance? We bet nothing!

If you've never thought about making your workplace a safe and healthy place for your employees, it's high time that you do. If you don't, it won't be long before you find yourself under a load of massive healthcare claims, or you start losing employees to employers who've adapted a more employee-centric approach.

Let's look at the many ways you can improve the ergonomics around your workplace and ensure your employees' health, safety, and well-being.

Replace Your Office Furniture with Ergonomic Options

It's about time you replace your conventional office furniture with newer, more ergonomic options. We don't have anything against conventional office furniture, but it's high time we accept the fact that office furniture can't be one-size-fits-all.

The first thing you've got to invest in is ergonomic work desks for all your employees. Ergonomic desks are superior to the work desks you've got right now. What makes ergonomic desks better in all aspects is the adjustable height feature. Not all your employees are the same height. Taller employees would like to have their desks a bit higher than shorter ones, and an ergonomic desk lets them do just that! They can lower or raise the desk to suit themselves. They no more have to sit in awkward postures (with the head bent and back curved or the neck and shoulders outstretched). This would mitigate the risk of incorrect posture significantly.

The next piece of office furniture that'll help you mitigate the risk of posture-related musculoskeletal disorders is an ergonomic chair like the Back Support Ergonomic Office Chair OC13. Unlike the conventional chairs, the user can adjust the height of these chairs to ensure their feet are flat on the floor and not dangling in the air (if the chair is too high) or bent too much at the knees (if the chair is too low). Ergonomic chairs also let the users adjust the seat depth so that their buttocks are fully accommodated on the seat, and they don't have to sit uncomfortably at work. Other features of ergonomic chairs that make them an ideal choice are the backrest, armrests, and swivel features.

Install Adjustable Monitor Mounts

If the computer monitor isn't placed at the right height and distance from the user, it'll encourage the user to sit in an awkward posture and put a strain on their eyes (if the monitor is placed too close to the user). If the monitor is placed too high, the user will have to raise their head to see the screen, and if the monitor is placed too low, the user will have to bend their head forward. Both these postures will put a strain on the neck.

This is where adjustable monitor mounts can help. You should ensure an adjustable monitor mount installed at every workstation. These mounts allow the user to adjust the height and angle of their computer monitors. Ideally, the monitor should be at an eye-level, right in front of the user, and at an arm's length distance. The user can adjust the monitor's position to achieve the perfect monitor placement.

Install Anti-Glare Screens on Computer Monitors

Most jobs today require users to sit in front of computer screens for prolonged hours. The computer screen's glare can strain the eyes and result in headaches. One way to mitigate this risk and make your workplace ergonomics-friendly is installing anti-glare screens on all computer monitors. These are specially designed screen add-ons that prevent computer screens' glare from affecting the eyes.

Replace Keyboards and Mouse

Typing and clicking on the mouse repeatedly (at intervals of less than 30 seconds) can put you at risk of repetitive strain injuries. However, you can prevent that from happening by replacing the keyboards and mice across your office with ergonomic keyboards and mice.

The keypad of an ergonomic keyboard is much softer. The keys on these keyboards are arranged in a unique pattern that encourages the natural placement of hands. The wrist support prevents the strain on the wrists from constant motion during typing. This ensures that the strain on the fingers and wrists is reduced, and so is the risk of repetitive strain injuries like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

The buttons on an ergonomic mouse are also quite soft and sensitive. The user has to press them only slightly. This further reduces the strain on the hands and makes using the mouse more comfortable.

Improve Office Lighting

It would be best if you installed the right light in your office. If the employees are required to read many documents during the day, a task lamp should be on their workstations. If most of the employees work on the computers, the lighting should be appropriately placed across the office so that it doesn't affect the screen's visibility. The office should be adequately bright, which means the lighting shouldn't be too bright that it shines directly into the eyes and shouldn't be too dim, putting strain on the eyes.

Closing Word

Improving workplace ergonomics isn't something you can do in a day. It's a long, continuous process that takes time, effort, and money. However, the benefits of good workplace ergonomics make it all absolutely worth it!