Workplace Ergonomics – Essential For a Safe and Productive Environment

An organization’s physical infrastructure greatly reflects its attitude toward its employees. Brilliant and clean work units, agreeable furnishings, roomy lodges, wellbeing amicable PCs and adornments, put forth for representatives the stylish and delicate viewpoint of the association. Ineffective office ergonomics can have an adverse effect on employee output. Proper ergonomic planning is sure to promote a safer, healthier and work-conducive environment for employees and a productive ambiance for the organization.

Elements to Consider for Effective Office Ergonomics Building Design & Maintenance Did you know that an improper office building design can cause Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) in its occupants? Sick Building Syndrome also referred to as Building Sickness, impacts employee health by causing headaches, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, throat problems, respiratory discomfort, ocular & nasal distress, and dryness and itchiness of the skin. Low-quality air within the office buildings, due to factors such as inadequate ventilation, ineffective air conditioning, and thermal retention, is believed to be the chief cause of SBS.

Workplace Ergonomics - Essential For a Safe and Productive Environment

Building ventilation should be so designed to prevent entrance of chemical contaminants and biological pollutants from the external environment. It has been found that sources of such contaminants are mostly within the office buildings. Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs, found in carpets, paints, wooden furniture, fax machines, etc. have an acute impact on human health. Stagnation of water on ceiling tiles and insulation breeds biological contaminants. Planned design and regular maintenance of office buildings can create a health-conducive environment for employees. Lighting & Acoustics Sufficient natural light should be allowed within the office building; it promotes a feeling of freshness and an active atmosphere. Bright overhead lights and consequent eye distress and headaches are common to employees in most workplaces. Impact of such harsh artificial lighting can be reduced by using filters, lower indirect light fixtures, and task lighting. A combination of indirect lighting and task lighting is used in workplace environments for optimal illumination; while indirect lighting allows adequate light for orientation, task lights, which are positioned closer to the employee working area, allow the employee sufficient light to perform his/her task. Shades, screens, and filters can be fitted to computer monitors to reduce the effect of glare on eyes.

Noise can have a psychological effect on employees; instances, where substantial noise pollution resulted in poor delivery by employees at interviews, are not unheard of. Proper acoustic fittings capable of absorbing noise can be a solution to such noise pollution.

Work-Area A work area should be so designed that it allows effective accommodation of work equipment and employee personal effects, and free body movement. Document holders and headphones/speakerphones can be effective for employees whose job responsibilities require continuous document reference and phone usage. They reduce strain to eyes, back, shoulders and neck. Footrests and glare-minimizing work surfaces minimize strain to feet and eyes.

Good ergonomic furniture and work equipment reduce common health risks faced at work. The health risks, medically categorized as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), MusculoSkeletal Disorders (MSDs) and Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs), are injuries affecting muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and nerves. Chairs Prolonged sitting results in muscular fatigue and has a significant effect on feet, legs, and back.

Compounded with poorly-designed chairs, this exposes employees to an increased health risk. Ergonomic chairs include those that have adjustable armrests, backrests with lumbar support and allow for seat height & depth adjustability. Employees should be trained on correct postures and effective exercises to keep fit at the workplace. Computers, Keyboards & Other Input Devices Incompatible alignment of computers and accessories can injure eye, neck, shoulders, wrists, elbows, and forearms. Monitors should be properly positioned from the user to allow comfortable viewing without much strain to the neck. Anti-glare monitors or customized eyeglasses are effective in minimizing eye distress. Document holders, if used, should be aligned at a height equal to that of the monitor to avoid eye, neck and shoulder pain.

Ergonomic keyboards designed to minimize muscle discomfort and injuries are available. Fixed-split keyboards, adjustable-split keyboards are some popular ergonomic keyboards. Standard keyboard compatibility can be improved by the usage of keyboard trays, which enable achieve appropriate height and distance.

Mouse, trackball and other input devices are to be chosen keeping in mind factors such as size, shape, operational ease, and the way they fit into the contours of the hand. Certain trackball designs make usage difficult and the user ends up injuring the thumb, and muscles or tendons of the hand. Currently, many branded computer mouse, trackballs, and other input devices such as touchpads, touch screens, etc., designed to ergonomic specifications are available in the market.

Laptops If work equipment involves laptops, then laptop stands, drawers or laptop desks should be used to avoid associated health risks. Several users work with laptops on their laps; this not only causes headaches and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders due to a bad keyboard posture but also exposes the user to the extreme heat emitted by the laptops, which may harm the body internally. Usage of laptop stands or other options allows for adjustment to ergonomic height and appropriate distance from the user.

Laptop design integrates monitor and keyboard, which prevents the user from achieving an ideal monitor position and keyboard position simultaneously. In other words, if the user adjusts the monitor to an optimal position, he doesn’t have a keyboard right or vice-versa. This leads to an incorrect posture, which causes musculoskeletal disorders. External keyboard and mouse can be used while working on laptops. Users should also be trained on correct postures and working methods that need to be followed while working with these units. Smaller, light-weight models can be chosen depending on the job requirement.

Ergonomic awareness programs provided by the experts at Eastside Sports & Rehabilitation Clinic teaches you regular workplace evaluations and employee ergonomic training practices are essential to create and maintain a healthy productive work environment.

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