How to Improve Workplace Ergonomics
By Tamara Sheehan
Director of Business Management
In the midst of an office redesign? You’re probably more concerned with where desks are going than what they look like or how they’re set up. Workplace layout can have a profound effect on space utilization. But what about workplace ergonomics? Biomechanics plays a pivotal role in the comfort and wellness of your employees.
Making a few changes to the way your workplace is designed and focusing on proper biomechanics can improve worker comfort that translates into big benefits for everyone.
Everyone has similar biomechanics. We walk on two legs, sit with our spines balanced at the hips, and move our heads from side-to-side to look around. Ergonomics is all about supporting the body’s natural posture and movements.
Ergonomics helps correct bad biomechanics or promotes good posture. Solutions range from relatively simple to complex, depending on a person’s habits. Office chairs with lower-back padding supports the spine’s natural curvature, which can improve seated posture.
The importance of ergonomics in the workplace
The benefits of workplace ergonomics revolve around comfort and wellness, both of which impact employee satisfaction and office culture. Being able to sit in a comfortable chair, watch a TV without craning their neck, or lounge in the break room is about more than just good posture for employees—it’s about feeling comfortable and relaxed because of good posture.
Imagine sitting on a hard, plastic chair for eight hours a day. Not very comfortable, nor good for the posture. Proper workplace ergonomics is linked to reduced risk of stress-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. According to one study, poor posture accounts for $1 out of every $3 in workers’ compensation pay.
Implementing ergonomics in the workplace
Ergonomics impacts all types of posture: sitting, standing, reclining, and movement. There are numerous opportunities to improve workplace design using ergonomically friendly equipment:
- Chairs: Chairs should have lumbar support that promotes good curvature of the lower back to maintain the natural S-bend of the spine. For neck stabilization, chairs should have the same type of support for the cervical spine.
- Desks: Desks should be free of clutter, with equipment and supplies only an arm’s reach away. There should be ample place to rest the wrists while typing and keyboards should lay flat or at a slight incline. When sitting, employees should be able to rest their forearms comfortably on the desk without shrugging their shoulders. Feet should be flat on the floor.
- Workstations: Standing or convertible workstations should offer ample room to perform tasks. Adjustable desks should raise or lower to heights that promote an upright posture—no hunching. Keyboard and mouse positions should mirror those used when seated.
- Screens: Face computer screens at a level that’s parallel with the person’s neutral-forward head position. Don’t force employees to swivel their heads to see what’s on their screens.
- Lighting: Lighting should be dim enough to cut screen glare, but bright enough to prevent squinting. For best results, install adjustable lighting to prevent employees from altering their posture to avoid glare and discomfort.
- Presentation Areas: Presentation tools such as whiteboards, slideshow screens, and TVs should be easily viewed from all parts of a meeting room. Equipment should cater to both right- and left-handed individuals with ample space on both sides of the presentation surface to operate a mouse or keyboard.
Don’t discount ergonomics
There are plenty of opportunities to improve your workplace ergonomics. Set standards by paying mind to the body’s biomechanics and the tendency to conform posture to our accommodations. The result will be better comfort and workplace wellness — two things that’ll benefit any company and its workforce.
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