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Guide to Workplace Ergonomics

Do you know average American adult spends 50% to 70% of the office time while sitting? No wonder one-thirdof workplace injuries and illnesses in the US are due to Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Poor office ergonomics lead to a multitude of health problems, such as back pain, neck stiffness, and sore shoulders.

The discomfort you feel after a hectic day at work stems from the poor design of workplace ergonomics. The sedentary work routine takes a massive toll on our mental and physical health. However, smart companies are implementing workplace ergonomics to help employees achieve maximum productivity.

workstation setup

Workplace Ergonomics

Ergonomics comes from the Greek words “ergon,” which means work, and “nomoi,” which means natural laws. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) define ergonomics as the science of adjusting workplace settings and job demands to the capabilities (and limitations) of the employees.

Ergonomics means considering all human factors when designing a process. Poor office ergonomics cause fatigue and frustration among employees; it affects work quality. So, workplace ergonomics is not only beneficial for employees but businesses as well.

The Process of Workplace Ergonomics

The process involves removing ergonomic risk factors that lead to MSD. Assessing the ergonomic risk after an injury takes place is a good approach. However, it is a reactive approach. If you want to reduce workplace injuries, the best approach is to be proactive.  Ceo of Updowndesk.com.au said that his company had adopted the Australian mantra that “Sitting Is The New Smoking.”

A proactive office ergonomics process first identifies the ergonomic risk factors in the workplace setting. The next step is to remove the barriers through administrative control. It is a continuous process that positively impacts the entire business.

Ergonomic Risk Factors to Consider

The ergonomics risk factors in a workplace make it difficult for employees to strike a balance between musculoskeletal fatigue and recovery. They become prone to develop an MSD. When designing the process, you must consider the factors related to ergonomics, including:

Highly Repetitive Task

Repetitive work tasks, such as those that have hourly production targets, when combined with awkward postures and high force, can cause spinal injuries. A job or task is highly repetitive if the cycle time is less than or equal to 30 seconds.

Sustained Awkward Postures

Poor sitting and standing postures exert additional force on joints. It overloads the tendons and muscles around the affected joint. Sustained awkward postures increase the risk of developing an MSD.

Forced Loads

Many tasks exert a high force load on the worker’s body. As a result, the muscle effort increases, causing associate fatigue. It eventually leads to MSD.

Remove Barriers through Control

Engineering controls reduce or eliminate awkward postures. Modifications in the ergonomic help workers maintain optimal joint range motion. The control methods that mitigate the ergonomic risk factors include

Work practice controls

Eliminate awkward posture and excessive force requirements. Use mechanical assistance, such as carts and dollies, to reduce effort and muscle exertion.

Job rotation

Rotate between tasks and workstations to reduce prolonged sitting or standing that leads to MSD.

Counteractive stretch breaks

Take stretch or rest break for increased circulation and to counter sustained poor postures. It gives you the much-needed recovery time. Use height-adjustable lift tables and workstations.

Healthy Office Ergonomics

Identifying potential barriers and removing them is not that difficult. Mostly, only a few changes can improve office ergonomics. However, if you need an entire workplace ergonomics makeover, you must seek professional help.

Proper workplace ergonomics, including an ergonomic chair, the right sitting posture, and the right computer posture, help your joints stay comfortable while working.

Ergonomic Chair

A chair that has the best ergonomic design is the one that is highly adjustable to cater to the body size and needs of all workers in an office setting. You must ensure that your chair offers not only seat height adjustment but also seat depth adjustment, arm support adjustment, and backrest angle adjustment.

Some ergonomic chairs also come with neck support and backrest lumbar support. Your chair must provide support to your body and spinal curves. Make sure to adjust the chair height such that your feet touch the floor or rest flat on a footrest. Your thighs must be parallel to the floor. Relax your shoulder and place your arms on adjustable armrest.

> ​We did a review of the ergonomic chair here which we like the most for a comfortable office/gaming chair.

Right Sitting Posture

Proper sitting posture is crucial for your spine and overall health. if your job requires you to sit eight or more hours at your workstation, make sure your sitting posture facilitates proper ergonomics. Or else be ready for muscle aches, fatigue, and MSD.

You must sit straight with your backrest angled at 100 degrees. For a proper sitting posture, position your neck upright. There must be an inch gap between your seat edge and the end of your thigh. Don’t sit with your legs crossed as it impedes blood pressure.

Proper Computer Posture

It includes not only the way you position yourself in a chair but also the computer screen’s height and your wrist position. Place your monitor at an arm’s length in the front. The top line of the screen must be at your eye level.

If you wear glasses, lower the height, at least 2 inches further, for optimal viewing. Adjust the height of the chair such that your elbows form a 100 degree angle with the work desk surface. Your wrist must be in a neutral position when typing. Keep your keyboard, mouse, and other key objects in your reach.