How to Apply Ergonomics in The Workplace
The office environment is getting more complicated and involving as new technology and research tries to push the boundary of what is and is not appropriate in the working area. Nowadays, we are encouraged to have an open office area to allow easy interaction of employees. There is also the introduction of comfortable furniture in the office to improve comfort and employee productivity.
In fact, the very definition of what an office used to be has undergone a major revolution. Thanks to the internet, employees can work from anywhere, meaning that an office can be any location. With so many new developments to keep up with, managers are faced with the headache of properly managing the office space.
One of the most important areas that managers cannot fail to ignore is worker safety and comfort. As a manager or business owner, you have to make sure that the office is stimulating and comfortable for workers. This is where ergonomics comes in. Here are a few ways to apply it in the workspace.
Step 1: Know the Meaning of Ergonomics
Ergonomics is concerned with how you design the workspace and how tools and equipment can be used with minimal injury. The main objective of ergonomic practices in the workplace is to increase employee productivity by providing them with what they need and getting rid of the things or factors that may threaten their health and safety. Ergonomics also looks at the workspace layout, activities that an employee should perform, and the body size of a person. That way, the workspace is customized to fit in with the worker’s strengths.
Step 2: Know about the Injuries
The second factor to consider as you apply ergonomics in the workplace is to be aware of potential injuries. One thing about ergonomic injuries in the workplace is that they don’t happen overnight; they are gradual and build up with time. Repetitive strain injury or RSI is an example of an ergonomic injury. This is sometimes known as the upper limb disorder. The performance of continuous repetitive tasks in an uncomfortable position for extended periods often results in pain in the arm and neck muscles. Another form of discomfort is known as musculoskeletal injury. It is often caused by using too much or the wrong force to do something. Another cause of musculoskeletal injury is bad posture. The symptoms often include pain in the joints.
Step 3: Identify the Potential Risk Factors
Once you have understood about the potential injuries, you need to find out things around the office area that are likely to cause those pains. Start off by observing the office environment from a vantage point. Don’t do anything that might alert the workers since you want them to act as naturally as possible. As they go about their duties, identify potential tasks that can be harmful and result in ergonomic injuries. Second, make the assessment formal and write down everything that you think needs to be changed to make the office safer. Third, think and document possible solutions of how to improve ergonomics in the workplace.
Step 4: Awareness
After you have identified the risk factors, you need to set up a workstation that creates awareness about ergonomics to the rest of the employees. The station can be a virtual or physical space. The main objective of creating awareness is to encourage employees to come up with more creative ways of making the office environment safe for themselves.
Step 5: Choose the Right Office Equipment
There so many office furniture and equipment that claim to improve the ergonomics of the workspace. However, not all of them are as helpful as they claim. Here are some common ergonomic equipment and what you should look out for.
Since sitting on a chair and using your desk can strain your eyes and back, experts recommend using standing desks to improve worker comfort. However, there have been issues with this approach. One of the main problems is heel pain due to standing desks. To avoid such a problem, make sure that you carry flat shoes to wear before you work on the standing desk. The desk design should also consider the person’s height: it shouldn’t be too high or low. The correct position is at elbow height.
The office chairs should allow for seat height adjustment to cater to different body sizes. The backrest should also be able to move back and forth for greater flexibility. The back of the seat ought to also have backrest tension support and lumbar control to prevent the back from aching.
Since your workers are going to spend a lot of time looking at their desktop screens, the equipment should have a system that allows easy adjustment of brightness and contrast. It should also be able to tilt so as not to strain the neck muscles.
Before you apply ergonomics in the workplace, consider the following steps. These strategies are not the only ones, and you can research to discover other ones that can be appropriate for your office. Be patient as you do so and always remember that a healthy workforce is a productive one; therefore, you have nothing to lose by putting your efforts into improving the office ergonomics.
About the Author:
Riya is an inspired writer. She is very delighted to work with many aspiring small business owners. She has both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree in Business, major in organization management and marketing. Connect with Riya on twitter, @sanderriya.