Ergonomics is all about designing for the people. If a product is labeled as ‘Ergonomic’, it means that the product developer has paid special attention to the product’s design to ensure it is the best possible fit for the end user in a specific environment. The practice of ergonomics aims to increase productivity, efficiency and reduce discomfort for the user while minimizing the risk of harm or injury.
The use of proper ergonomics is focused on the study of human anatomy, biomechanics, physiology, engineering, psychophysical factors, and the environment. As technologies evolve, so does the need to ensure that our modern work tools and office environment are designed with ergonomics in mind. Since there’s a significant amount of research that goes into the field of ergonomics, it is always at the cusp of innovation and development.
Here is a simple example of ergonomic design: a conventional upright dining chair versus an ergonomically designed office chair.
The conventional dining chair has no arm rest, cushioning, or swivel function. It has not been designed to take care of the user’s comfort while sitting. The ergonomically designed office chair has adjustable arm rests and height in addition to cushioning and has been designed to match the user’s body and sitting posture.
As you will notice, the ergonomically designed office chair allows the user to work more efficiently and comfortably in an office environment as compared to the dining chair. Not to mention, users stay healthy in the long run if they choose to use the ergonomically designed office chair during work. An upright dining chair may not be considered ergonomic in an office environment, but can be used in a dining room. This is because in an office environment, people need to be seated for long periods of time, and using the same type of chair could cause problems due to lack of lumbar support and the rigid position at a static angle.
Here are some of the benefits of ergonomics. The main aim of the ergonomic design is to improve:
On the other hand, poor ergonomics means there is a disjoint between the equipment and the environment in which the task is to be performed.
The rapid adoption of computers in the modern workplace has dramatically increased the need for attention to ergonomics. Monitors, laptops, keyboards, mice, chairs, and desks have become an integral part of our life, whether we are at the office or at home.
Until recently, most office furniture has encouraged fixed, stiff postures and little to no movement. Considering that we all spend a significant amount of time at work, it becomes crucial for employers to promote the use of good ergonomics in the workplace.
Buying the right kind of ergonomic equipment is an important first step, but it is by no means the final solution. Employers also need to take into account the need for consistent movement and posture change throughout the day. They need to strike a balance between sitting and standing at regular intervals, which can be aided by using a height-adjustable desk. This is a proven way to combat the negative effects of sedentary workplace routine.
High task repetition when combined with other risks factors such as bad posture, tends to increase worker fatigue and slows down the work process. Attention to office ergonomics often makes employees more efficient at work as it improves posture and reduces repetitive motions. This way employees feel more comfort, less pain and stay more productive throughout their day.
Poor ergonomics often leads to fatigued workers who are unable to do their best at work. Workers who experience physical pain or discomfort often report feeling tired, which makes them far less able to perform optimally. Physical pain also negatively impacts mental focus. It is tough to feel inspired, generate new ideas, or solve problems when distracted by physical discomfort.
By reducing risk factors associated with poor ergonomics, you can reduce the cost of work-related ill health. Did you know $1 out of every $3 spent on workers’ compensation is attributed directly to musculoskeletal disorders?+ Not only does this represent an opportunity for major cost savings but also reduce indirect costs that can be as high as twenty times the direct cost of a work-related injury.
Providing employees with a comfortable and ergonomic work environment shows that you take their personal health and well-being seriously. This makes employees feel cared about and makes them more engaged at work. In addition to this, it can lead to decreased absenteeism and boost employee morale too.
Most business owners know that one of the biggest threat to work productivity is employee absence due to injuries. More workplace injuries occur due to repetitive strain rather than the use of machinery. Healthy employees are certainly an organization’s most valuable asset, which is why creating a safe environment should be a priority.
As you can already guess, advanced ergonomics can have a significant and far-reaching impact on your organization’s bottom line, including improvement in employees’ productivity and major cost savings. In fact, it has so much importance in today’s competitive business environment, it is almost impossible to ignore the value of ergonomics as a necessary process in designing your workplace.
Here’s a series of questions to help you decide if investing in an ergonomic setup at your workplace is a good idea for your organization:
In fact, it’s so important that all major businesses are keen to integrate ergonomics deeply into their operations.
So is having an ergonomics process at your organization worth the cost? The answer is: Yes, absolutely! Not only is valuing ergonomics good for your business and operations, but it’s also good for your people.
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