What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging a workspace to fit the worker. It comes from the Greek words ‘ergon’ meaning work and ‘nomos’ meaning laws.
Effective ergonomic solutions can provide many benefits to an organization. They can make your staff more comfortable and productive, as well as contributing to reducing occupational health and safety risks in the workplace.
Why is Ergonomics Important?
Ergonomics should be a key consideration for all organizations when considering the setup of their workers’ workstations. If your workers are uncomfortable and their bodies are stressed, they are more likely to experience symptoms such as fatigue, discomfort, and pain, in turn reducing productivity and increasing the risk of a workplace injury occurring.
Effective ergonomic workspaces offer many benefits, including:
- Increased savings;
- Reduced risk of workplace injuries;
- Increased productivity;
- Increased engagement; and,
- Reduced absenteeism.
Key Risk Factors
Let’s have a look at some of the key risks that are associated with bad posture and poorly designed workplaces.
An awkward posture can come in many forms. It may be that an individual is slouching or leaning forward too much, their shoulders may be too elevated or their wrists may be extended as opposed to straight.
Repeating tasks over and over or performing the same task for a long period of time can put a strain on the worker’s body and increases the risk of things like carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow occurring. It is important to reduce repetition and duration, and take regular breaks, as well as designing an ergonomic workstation.
How to Design an Ergonomic Office Workspace
There are several key attributes of an ergonomic office workspace. You need to ensure that you have an ergonomic chair, posture, and workstation setup. There are guidelines available from a variety of sources on how to achieve this.
We have summarised some of the key things you can do to achieve an ergonomic workplace below.
An ergonomic chair is one that is adjustable to cater to different people’s individual needs depending on their body type and size. It should offer adjustability for seat height, arm support, seat depth, and backrest angle, as well as neck and lumbar support.
For the best posture to be achieved at the workstation, chair height should be adjusted so that elbows form a 90-100 degree angle with the desk. The top of the monitor should be in line with the user’s eye level and wrists should be at a straight neutral position when typing.
With the workstation setup, workers can also do the following to ensure optimal posture:
- Keep neck upright;
- Make sure feet are fully touching the floor, use a footrest if necessary;
- Alternate between sitting and standing; and,
- Avoid sitting with your legs crossed and take regular breaks to get up and walk around.
Below is a visual overview of how to achieve correct posture at an ergonomically designed workstation.
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