GOOD ergonomics is essential to a productive and healthy workforce – and they cost almost nothing to implement.
Linda Trim, a director at workplace design specialist Giant Leap, said: “All enterprises should strive to create an ergonomically sound workspace for all employees. Quality furniture and good design is of course a great help, but it is the responsibility of each person to make sure that they are using good ergonomics at their own workstations.”
Below are seven easy-to-implement tips that will help optimise ergonomics:
- Good working posture
The top ergonomic priority is to establish a good working posture. “People should be able to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks,” Trim said. Office workers should sit with hands, wrists and forearms that are straight, in line and parallel to the floor. The head should be level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right and generally be in line with the torso.
- Adjustable chairs and desks
To encourage good posture and the neutral body position, enterprises should install high-quality adjustable chairs, furniture and equipment. “The more positions a chair and desk can adjust to, the more they can be tailored to the individual using them. When it comes to ergonomics, one size most definitely does not fit all.”
- Proper display height and distance
Monitors and other display devices should be placed at eye level. Viewing a display should not require straining the neck nor squinting the eyes. Ergonomics dictates that individuals not be required to turn their neck to the left, right, up or down to view a display.
- Keyboard and mouse position
While they are often ergonomic afterthoughts, the proper keyboard and mouse configuration is just as important as posture when it comes to neutral body positioning. If people are reaching for the mouse at a bad angle or have to violate the inline parallel rule for elbows and wrists, they are going to lose neutral positioning. Reaching for input devices can lead to excessive fatigue and injury after lengthy exposure. Keyboards and mice should be accessed without breaking any of the neutral positioning rules.
- Reducing repetitive movement
Even if an individual applies perfect ergonomic principles, repeating the same motion will cause stress and eventually lead to injury. “The best way to combat this is by changing tasks. Doing something else even for a short time will reduce potential for injury,” Trim advised. If changing the task is not possible, individuals should periodically change the neutral positioning they are using – from the upright sitting position to standing, reclined sitting or declined sitting.
- Standing up and moving around
For office workers, this is a important tip. Once an hour, workers should stand up and take a few minutes to walk down the hall, get a drink, look out the window – anything that gets them out of their chair.
- Environmental setting
Often overlooked when discussing ergonomics is the overall working environment. “Proper lighting, temperature and humidity are ergonomic essentials,” said Trim. Lighting should not cause glare on computer screens, which means that many workplace settings should be equipped with softer light systems. Lighting that is good for reading printed material is not necessarily the best lighting for computer displays. Temperature settings are trickier because of individual preferences, but every attempt should be made to maintain a temperature that is comfortable for as many people as possible.
Linda Trim is a director at workplace design specialist Giant Leap.