Office Ergonomics: What is it? Why is it Important? How to Implement it at Your Desk and in Your Office.
Ergonomics is the art of designing anything people use – workspaces, equipment, furniture – to best minimize the risk of injury or harm. Why is it important? According to OSHA, MSD (Musculoskeletal Disorder) cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases in 2013. Many of these injuries could have been avoided through proper office ergonomics.
Healthy work habits can help lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity and reduce the number and severity of work-related injuries. Examples of such disorders include carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, muscle strains and lower back injuries. In addition, office ergonomics can help avoid other costly incidents, such as falls and accidental injuries.
As a business owner, you are responsible for creating a safe and healthy workplace in order to do your work and meet your objectives. Here are some tips for making sure all your ergonomic needs are met:
Develop an ergonomic plan. You should have written guidelines in place that you can check regularly as a reminder of the importance of office ergonomics. The goal is to be able to identify ergonomic risk factors, quantify them, and then make measurable improvements.
Things you may want to include in your ergonomics plan:
- Keep work areas free of debris/clutter to avoid trips and falls
- Make sure back and neck are supported – sustained awkward postures can lead to injury
- Invest in ergonomic-friendly furniture and support devices as needed
- If you use a phone often, purchase a headset to avoid repetitive use injuries
- Make sure the computer monitor is at the correct height to avoid neck strain
- Take micro-breaks/stretching breaks to help relieve muscle strain
- Keep frequently used objects, such as your mouse and keyboard, close enough to avoid excessive reaching
- Posture is important – The right desk and chair will help but a conscious effort to sit up straight is key
- Be good to your eyes. Take regular breaks by looking away from your screen, control screen glare, and positioning the monitor far enough away to avoid eye strain
Schedule regular assessments. Office ergonomics is most likely not going to be top of mind for you, or your greatest priority. Schedule regular times to read through your guidelines and ensure that you are still following the best practices you have set for yourself. Quarterly is a good time to do this.
Be good to your body. Getting plenty of sleep, drinking enough water, exercising regularly and taking stretch breaks will do wonders for you – especially if you spend the majority of your day sitting behind a desk. While these activities seem obvious, we tend to neglect our own needs in favor of getting things done. However, you will be amazed at how productive you become and how much better you feel when your basic needs are being met.
While ergonomics can be applied in a diverse number of jobs, they are often associated with an office environment. With the average adult spending 50-70% of the day sitting down at work, healthy habits and practices are the best prevention against future pain and discomfort. Office ergonomics will increase your comfort and efficiency, as well as help to reduce stress. Taking ergonomics into consideration is easy to implement and will ultimately make your business a more profitable (and comfortable!) place.
To learn more about proper body mechanics at your desk, watch this video by Certified Ergonomic Assessor, Ashley Greninger and visit her website at: www.lotusheartposture.com for more info.
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