Ergonomics. It’s a topic that doesn’t come up much in the workplace despite the fact that it’s the science of optimizing a place, such as your desk, so that everything can be used both easily and safely. It’s also described as the study of people and their working environment, with emphasis on how ergonomics impacts effectiveness.
Improving ergonomics is ONE Thing that can result in substantial improvements across all facets of a business.
Ergonomics extends well beyond our chairs (although this piece of office equipment is a perfect example of ergonomics at work). Here are a few other ways ergonomics plays a role in the office and how it can be improved to help maximize productivity.
Improving Ergonomics For Improved Productivity
Finding a comfortable chair that’s designed to support your body through hours of sitting at a desk is an excellent start to improving ergonomics in the workplace. To go beyond that initial improvement, consider employing the following ergonomic strategies.
1. Conduct an Ergonomics Climate Assessment
Colorado State University just published the results of a recent study that examined how much emphasis is put on workplace ergonomics and how it impacts productivity. They used an ergonomics climate assessment to measure the ergonomic state of the workplace.
The CSU ergonomics climate assessment included 40 questions across four categories: training and knowledge, job hazard analysis, employee involvement and management commitment.
Any business can use assessments to their advantage and identify areas of improvement. Assessment questions will be different for each business, but they should focus on two things: operational performance and employee well-being. When these two things are in balance, employees report less work-related pain and higher levels of productivity. Workers can use the assessment to express their perception of how supportive the workplace is and mention the adjustments they think will improve the quantity and quality of their work.
2. Set Your Desk Up for Success
How your desk is arranged will affect the efficiency with which you work. It’s important to practice the ergonomic fundamentals:
- Keep your computer screen at a distance that doesn’t strain your eyes (about 1.5-2 feet away). The screen also needs to be at eye level to reduce neck strain and improve visibility.
- The keyboard should be tilted slightly so that the forearms and hands remain straight without bending the wrist.
- Use adjustable equipment that can easily change as your needs change. (This is crucial for shared workspaces.)
- Make sure there is adequate support for your elbows, arms, wrists, back and feet.
- Ensure there is good lighting for the tasks being performed.
- Employees should have enough space to easily move around and reach things.
- Rearrange things on the desk so that the most frequently used items are up front and easy to reach.
It may be beneficial to have an ergonomics training day where you go over how each person can set up their work station to increase comfort and productivity.
3. Bring in an Ergonomics Expert
If you are redesigning your current office or in the process of setting up a new workspace it’s the perfect time to leverage the skills of an ergonomics expert. These professionals specialize in designing offices for maximum efficiency. They will analyze your needs, the type of work being done and the physical space to come up with design schemes and equipment that promote a productive environment. For busy owners and managers outsourcing this task to a specialist will certainly pay off.
4. Make Workplace Safety a Top Priority When Selecting Equipment
The equipment you use impacts ergonomics more than anything else. Many factors come into play when selecting equipment, but safety has to be a top priority. When safety is put first it naturally leads to increased productivity because risks are minimized.
5. Make Ergonomics Part of Your Business
Implementing an ergonomics program can help keep related issues at the forefront so that they become a part of your everyday considerations. Since 1990 the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has created ergonomics program guidelines for various industries. These serve as a blueprint that helps direct companies on how to gauge ergonomics and make improvements.
Experts note that when a company takes the initiative to create an ergonomics program it’s more likely to become a part of the overall process. It’s engrained into the culture and becomes an ongoing practice that’s continuously improved.
The most important thing is to remain proactive about acknowledging and improving ergonomics in the office. If your company has taken the initiative to improve ergonomics we want to hear about it. Share your strategies and tips with us in the comment section or on Facebook.