5 Ways To Improve Workplace Ergonomics
Written by: Heath Marshall
Ergonomics is the science of adapting the workstation to fit within the capabilities and limitations of the worker. In other words, changing things in an environment to make a worker more comfortable.
The purpose of workplace ergonomics is to create an environment that fits you, to allow maximum comfort for increased productivity and efficiency.
An ergonomically correct workstation can greatly reduce the amount of fatigue and discomfort felt from sitting in an office all day. Continued exposure to discomfort and poor mechanics can result in debilitating conditions. Some of the more common ones are carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis. Here a few guidelines to things that you can do to increase your comfort in an office setting.
Here are 5 tips on how to improve workplace ergonomics...
Arms rests? Yeah that’s what I said. Armrests allow you to rest the weight of your arms on them instead of resting the weight on your shoulders and neck. This can help you not hunch over, as well as not strain your Trapezius Muscles. If your arms are not supported, your neck will feel very tight after work from being stretched out all day.
2. Your Chair
So this one is obvious but one of the main complaints of sitting in an office is lower back pain. Having a chair that does not support good posture can lead to:
- Hunching– Hanging your head out over your lap instead of your shoulders
- Slouching – Having your hips forward on the chair more so your shoulders rest on the back of the chair
- Sl-unching – So I made this one up, but it’s when you are leaning forward and also sitting forward on your chair. Almost hanging over you keyboard.
To properly sit, you will need to have your feet on the floor, not dangling. This prevents the weight of your body resting on your buttocks or back of legs fully. Weight distribution is key here. Hips should be pushed back against the back of the chair, and with your arms bent about 90 degrees while resting on the arm rests. Body angle should be slighting reclined. Not straight up and down.
If you are not used to sitting correctly, your body may have to adjust. The first few times you sit up straight, your body will act like it wants to slouch. This will pass and soon you will be comfortably typing and leaving work less sore.
3. Monitor Should Be Eye Level
Part of the reason you are slouching and feeling uncomfortable is because you are looking down on your monitor. Okay so that’s an assumption, but are you? You should be looked straight ahead at the top of your monitor. With the keyboard directly in line, so you don’t have to turn your head. Make sure the monitor is at least an arm’s length away too. Having it too close will cause strain on the eyes.
4. The Phone
If your job requires you to be on the phone for a majority of the day, make sure you aren’t holding the phone with your shoulder. This can cause unnecessary cramping due to being in a weird position for an extended period of time. A headset can normally be set up by your IT department if you ask nicely enough.
5. Stay Hydrated
So this one isn’t really, ergonomic, but you can avoid fatigue by taking good care of your body. Drink plenty of water, get plenty of exercise, take stretch breaks and avoid prolonged periods of sitting. Snacking all day is a great way to put on weight, and drinking 5 cups of coffee is a fantastic way to get addicted to caffeine.
Your desk should be a comfortable place in order to produce good work. If your office has the ability, consider having an ergonomics professional come and assess each individual’s needs. If your office can’t justify that, then these things above will help. Hopefully you can find a comfortable way to sit all day. Keep looking to find what works for you.