Many people overlook the aspect of ergonomics in the workplace simply because injuries caused by poor ergonomics don’t manifest obviously like injuries sustained from harsh chemicals or falls from heights. However, ergonomic injuries can develop into detrimental medical conditions if not addressed on time.
Practicing good ergonomics at the workplace is aimed at preventing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which include strained muscles, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and ruptured discs. Additionally, poorly designed workstations can result in MSDs and, by extension, lead to reduced productivity, increased insurance claims, loss of income, missed time, and pain and suffering.
Here are five simple ways to enhance workplace ergonomics and reduce the risk of MSDs:
Maintain Good Posture
Practicing good posture means finding the right position to work in. Its, however, important to note that some positions may seem comfortable for the worker but may not be ergonomically correct. Again, be sure to move and shift positions throughout the day to avoid overstraining one part of the body.
Find the Right Chair
Workers who sit at a desk all day long are most vulnerable to back problems. You need to get an ergonomic chair with adjustable sitting postures. The best chair should come with adjustable height, lumbar support, armrest, and sit pan depth. If your feet don’t rest on the floor, ensure that the chair has an incorporated footrest. Standard chairs may not work for people with certain disabilities, so be sure to provide options for workers who may need special chairs.
Find a Good Seat Cushion
Similarly to ergonomic office chairs, orthopedic seat cushions help to add more comfort during sitting (especially if it’s prolonged and lasts for several hours). There are different types of seat cushions available on the market – some of them are made out of memory foam, others – from gel-like material. You can also get a cushion that is specific to a condition (e.g. sciatica, lower back pain) or environment (e.g. office chair, car, airplane). Here is more information on the subject – Best Seat Cushion for Car, Office Chair, Pain, Sciatica (2020).
Adjust Your Computer Accordingly
Ensure that your computer station works for you. Your mouse and keyboard should be on the same level with your armrest supporting the weight of your arms. Your wrists should also remain as straight as possible while using your keyboard and mouse. The easiest way to improve your sitting posture and ergonomics is to add a monitor stand. You can use it to adjust the monitor screen to your eye level and at the appropriate focal length hence reducing strain on your eyes, shoulder, neck, and back.
If you’re working by repeating the same movement continuously throughout the day, you can cause a lot of strain on particular muscles. Alternate tasks whenever it’s possible to do so. If it’s not realistic to alternate or rotate tasks during your shift, ensure that you take several breaks in between. Do some stretches during the breaks or carry out simple exercises that can help relax your muscles and tendons. Protalus states that stretching the muscles connected to the hip helps maintain optimal function and movement, which is why the butterfly stretch is ideal.
Utilize your Knee Muscles When Lifting
If your job involves lifting heavy loads, ensure that you’re trained on how to safely handle loads manually. A good lifting technique is to lift with your knees as opposed to the muscles on your back.
By practicing the right workplace ergonomics, employees are adequately protected from work-related injuries hence lowering healthcare and insurance costs. Additionally, improving workplace ergonomics improves employee productivity and enhances employee retention. However, it’s important to note that improving workplace ergonomics is a continuous process that requires regular review and improvement.