From the absence of office politics to unlimited vacation policies, companies have been finding different ways to create a strong workplace culture—and for a good reason.
Great office environments are known to boost productivity and encourage strategic thinking—the kind of strategy that rakes in profit and keeps great companies ahead of their competitors.
But there’s one aspect of company culture that isn’t often talked about: ergonomics in the workplace.
Ergonomics in the workplace is about more than just buying comfortable chairs with adjustable back, head, and neck support. It’s making sure a product, its purpose, and the person using it are a perfect fit.
It’s how every element in the entire office is set up—the desks, chairs, computers, printers, lights, and even the floors—so that workers can do their job without risks of injury or health complications.
The cost of making your office ergonomic depends on several factors:
If you’re not sure how to start, you can hire a professional to carry out an ergonomic assessment. A consultant will visit your workplace to observe employees at their workstations and look for deficiencies that could lead to discomfort, sickness, and injury.
Then, they will introduce ergonomically designed equipment and best practices to follow for improved workplace safety and productivity.
Ergonomic equipment and furniture can be a bit pricey, so many companies buy them en masse to “save” money. But the payback of ignoring ergonomic concerns is higher than what you would save on initial costs.
Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders or WMSDs are disorders that affect connective tissues and the musculoskeletal system. It is caused by overexertion, repetitive movements, or awkward postures. This includes the following:
WMSD often results in increased health care claims for treatments, worker’s compensation costs, prescription costs, and insurance premiums.
According to the CDC, WMSD cases are even more severe than nonfatal illnesses and injuries. The economic burden of WMSDs in terms of compensation costs and lost wages is between $45 and $54 billion per year.
Poor ergonomics in the workplace can cause other health issues and injuries such as:
These health issues can affect employee productivity and could lead to:
In Canada, employers have the legal obligation to protect their workers from hazards caused by poor ergonomics. When an employee gets injured, the company could be held liable and may incur legal expenses.
Here are a few simple ways to improve ergonomics in the workplace:
Workers shouldn’t maintain the same position throughout the day. Thus, the elements surrounding them should be made adjustable to fit their body.
For example, an adjustable table allows a worker to stand every once in a while and still have access to the keyboard, mouse, phone, etc.
On the other hand, adjustable chairs offer posture support, relieve hip pressure, and help improve blood circulation.
It doesn’t matter how high-tech your chair is if you don’t sit on it properly!
To maintain good posture while working at your desk, keep the following tips in mind:
As for your computer and tools, here’s what you should remember:
Educating employees on how ergonomics in the workplace can make their work easier, safer, and more efficient would help avoid WMSDs and other health issues.
Train your staff to identify tasks that may lead to injuries and find better ways to get those tasks completed without risks.
Ergonomics in the workplace doesn’t have to be costly. It could be as simple as positioning printers and supplies in an area where they can easily be reached or switching to network printing instead of using local printers that could cause workers to trip over cables and wires.
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