Regardless of the type of work environment, it’s essential that all employees remain safe while they are on the job. Whether it’s a construction site, factory or office building, it’s important that the correct ergonomics are put in place to minimise any risk of injury to employees.
You may be thinking, what kind of dangers could possibly be imposed on office workers? Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t really sound high-risk, but it can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing if ergonomics factors are ignored. They can develop a number of conditions, from back pain to vision problems, in addition to shaving years off their lives.
Ergonomics is the process of refining the design of a product to optimise them for human use and help improve health and safety, comfort, performance and satisfaction. A workplace with a strong safety culture using ergonomics boosts productivity, employee morale and employee retention, saving your business money from unnecessary costs such as sickness days and delays.
So, what can you do to improve the ergonomics in your office?
1. Provide training
Educating employees so that they know how to work ergonomically can help prevent the onset of injuries and accidents in the workplace, meaning less money spent on sickness days. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to protect your workers under the Healthy and Safety at Work Act in the UK. It states employers must take responsibility for the safety of their employees and provide a secure environment. Ergonomics training will inform workers on how to set up workspaces and desks correctly, how to position chairs and how to sit with correct posture to help employees avoid musculoskeletal injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or muscle/tendon strain.
2. Adapt the office environment
The office environment can often be neglected when it comes to ergonomics, but it can be a key factor in affecting staff productivity levels and alertness. Even though finding a happy medium office temperature to suit everyone can be challenging, research suggests that the best temperature is between 22°c and 24°c. If an office is too warm, it can cause employees to feel sleepy and lethargic, whereas if an office is too cold then it can make employees more susceptible to illness, resulting in increased sick days. Lighting should not cause glares off walls, screens or windows – glare can be avoided with blinds, matt paint and monitor positioning. Allow as much natural lighting in the office as possible as it helps employees feel more energised and alert.
3. Provide suitable ergonomic chairs
Sitting down all day can have a negative effect on many parts of your body, including your back posture and legs. That’s why it’s important to find the right chair with lumbar support, seat depth adjustability and a tilt mechanism to encourage movement. It should support your back comfortably and have an adjustable height option so feet can sit flat on the floor whatever the user’s height.
4. Find the perfect desk
Choosing the right desk is just as important as choosing the right chair, it’s important to choose a desk in a matte finish to prevent any glares and avoid eye strain. The user should be able to comfortably sit at the desk with feet flat on the floor, and knees bent at 90 degrees – whilst still being able to use your mouse and keyboard without excessive reaching. Make sure to keep desks free of clutter (this can hinder creativity, too).
5. Set up your monitors correctly
Setting the positioning of your monitors is easy but can make a massive difference to your health. It can help reduce headaches and eye strain, as well as musculoskeletal disorders from awkward sitting positions. Ensure that monitors are placed so the top of your screen is in line with your eye line and about an arm’s reach away – so your fingertips just touch the screen.
6. Provide awareness and encouragement
By encouraging your employees to be ergonomical in the workplace and take care of themselves by offering rewards; offering incentives can increase the compliance rate and grow your success. If your employees comply with ergonomic procedures it can help save you time and money in the long run, due to having a more productive happy workforce that take less sick days. Small rewards like edible treats, extra breaks or simple words of encouragement can motivate other employees to also get on board.
Written by Becky Morris