We can define workplace ergonomics as the study of designing a workplace in a way to make work more efficient and minimize strain, injuries, and accidents.
For example, sitting for long hours at a stretch stresses the body and can cause musculoskeletal disorders(MSDs) and other problems. These problems can further cause low productivity, increased absenteeism, increased health care costs, etc.
Research has shown that effective and successful workplace ergonomics programs reduce the number of MSDs by 61% and staff turnover by 87%.
As such, adopting steps to minimize these risks and practicing good ergonomics has become quite crucial for employers around the world. Moreover, a properly designed workplace reduces fatigue and increases performance and productivity among employees as well.
Benefits of Workplace Ergonomics
Ergonomics can have a significant impact on a company and benefit it in many ways.
Here are a few benefits of workplace ergonomics for organizations -
- Increases productivity
- Increases morale
- Improves employee health
- Reduces absenteeism
- Improves workplace safety
- Increases savings
- Reduces costs
- Reduces employee turnover
- Improves product quality
Ways to improve Workplace Ergonomics
Proper workplace ergonomics assessment and adjustment helps identify and reduce risk factors. A great ergonomics program is a continuously improving process that is proactive and prioritized.
So, how do you go about improving workplace ergonomics?
Little things like correctly positioning chairs, desks, and computers can help make a workplace ergonomically correct and make a big difference for an organization.
If you are an employee, here are some tips that can help you improve ergonomics at work -
Maintaining good posture is an integral part of being healthy and fit. It helps prevent back problems and also creates a good impression of a person.
As you spend most of your time at work sitting down, you must maintain proper or neutral posture and avoid awkward positions.
Neutral posture can is a position in which a person feels comfortable, and which places minimum stress on the joints and muscles. Whereas, a position which puts pressure on the muscles and joints of a person can is an awkward posture.
Look after your eyes.
Staring at computer screens for long hours is unavoidable for corporate employees and causes eye strain, affecting many people around the world. Eye strain can cause stress, headaches, and hamper productivity.
Position your computer monitor at an appropriate distance from you. Make sure it’s at eye level when you’re sitting in your chair. Moreover, if there is a light or a window behind, adjust the position of the monitor so that it reduces glare.
Also, if your monitor has a low resolution or has a damaged display, replace it as soon as possible.
Even if your workplace is designed ergonomically, stress at work can cause severe problems to your body and mind. Workplace stress can cause strain on your muscles and cause them to tense up.
Take breaks to relax from work and prevent the build-up of stress. Even a short 5-minute break can help reduce fatigue and prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Moreover, taking breaks combats boredom and increases motivation and productivity.
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Make things comfortable and avoid harmful practices.
Keep things like phones, printers, keyboards, etc. close to your body so that you can effortlessly reach them. Having to excessively reach out to access items can put unnecessary strain on your muscles.
Also, avoid corrupt practices such as slouching and jamming your phone in between your ear and neck. Such practices put stress on the spine and can cause serious problems.
As already mentioned before, sitting for long hours is very bad for the body. It causes fatigue and leads to various health problems, such as obesity and diabetes.
Make it a point to get up from your chair and stretch frequently. Stretching your muscles can improve muscle strength, balance, and also coordination.
Also, stretching re-energizes the body and increases blood circulation, reducing the risk of injury.
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Now, here are some ways to improve ergonomics if you are an employer -
Invest in good chairs.
Make sure that all the furniture in your workplace is ergonomic, especially the chairs. Buy adjustable chairs that have settings for different postures. A good chair should provide lumbar support, arm-rests, foot-rests, and should have adjustable height settings.
Providing good chairs will make sure that your employees maintain proper posture while sitting, and it will also prevent back problems, etc.
Provide proper lighting.
Your workplace should be a well-lit one where there is adequate lighting, be it natural or artificial. Insufficient or excessive light can seriously affect an employee’s performance and productivity. It can cause eye fatigue, headaches, and even cause workplace injuries and accidents.
Make sure your workplace has adequate lighting in all areas. Check if all the lights are working correctly. You can also provide table lamps for people who work on desks.
Layout and placement.
Office ergonomics is about the interaction of your work environment with your body. As such, the design and layout of your workplace must be well planned.
Ensure that all the equipment in your workplace is properly placed according to your employees’ convenience. Items that are used regularly should be placed in a way that minimizes strain and effort to access them.
Also, plan the layout in such a way so that employees don’t get in each other’s way, and the working space is not cramped up.
Ensure safety by overcoming ergonomic problems.
Safety and prevention of workplace hazards are the main objectives of ergonomics. After all, a safe workplace is a happy and productive workplace.
Identify the ergonomic issues affecting each employee’s health and safety and accordingly address them. Ask your employees if they are having any problems and if they think something needs to be changed.
Eliminating existing ergonomic issues is the first step in optimizing your workplace.
Create employee awareness.
Training is an essential element of a successful workplace ergonomics implementation program. The implementation of proper ergonomics at work can be a lot easier if employees are trained and educated on the same.
Conducting training sessions for your employees can increase their knowledge of ergonomics and help them identify potential problems in your workplace. They will also be able to minimize workplace accidents and injuries, creating a safer work environment.
Good positioning of the keyboard and mouse.
Place your keyboard and mouse at a good angle. Adjust the keyboard and mouse in front of you so that you don't have to put unnecessary strain on your arms and neck.
Place the screen above the keyboard in a way that is higher than the eye level. Keeping the screen at eye level will help to avoid eyestrain.
Follow the 20/ 20/20 rule.
Now sitting in front of the computer screen will put a strain on your eyes. If you engage in different activities, it will relax your eye muscle and reduce eye strain.
For every 20 minutes you spend watching the computer screen, you should spend 20 minutes on different activities.For example: having a striking conversion with your colleagues or listening to music.
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Stay hydrated and do not skip lunch.
Office hours are hectic; therefore, breaks are essential. Eating lunch allows you to take a break, move your muscles and let your eyes take a rest from the computer screen.
Always stay hydrated, as drinking water helps a lot. Water helps in flushing out the waste from the entire body.
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Get up and walk around.
The aim is to take many steps during the day. Continuously sitting for hours at the workplace creates a sedentary lifestyle. The objective is to take many steps during the day. Walking shores up your bones and lighten your mood.
Workstations should be spacious enough. Employees often want to move around easily and quickly.
When there is free movement within the workstation, it ensures comfort and productivity.
Use a footstool for support.
Your chair and desk might be too high without having a flexible option. In such a scenario, use a footstool and rest your feet. It will reduce the pressure on your legs and decrease foot pain.
Adjust your armrest.
Armrest is a padded arm of a chair where the sitter can keep their arm comfortably. Armrest helps in reducing shoulder pain and neck strain. Adjust the armrest in a way that supports your elbow and not putting pressure on the shoulders.
Workplace ergonomics isn’t as complicated as it may seem. Taking the steps mentioned above can significantly help you to improve ergonomics at your workplace. The most important thing is to be able to recognize potential ergonomic risk factors and accordingly find solutions to eliminate them.