Back injuries are the most common type of workplace injury. The repetitive motion and overexertion which cause these injuries can be lessened through ergonomics.
Clearly, ergonomics is something that employers, employees, and the self-employed should all be taking seriously. However, many people remain in the dark as to what the word even means.
Read on as we look at what ergonomics is and share our key tips on how to set up an ergonomic workstation.
What Is an Ergonomic Workstation?
Ergonomics is the science of arranging workplaces so that the person using them can perform as efficiently and safely as possible. There are many different aspects to this.
A key consideration in ergonomics is individual variation. What fits one person perfectly will be entirely wrong for someone else. This is why it’s so important for employees to prioritize ergonomics on an individual level.
As it has been put previously, ergonomics is the science of fitting the task to the worker, rather than the other way around.
The Benefits of an Ergonomic Workstation
The positive health effects of an ergonomic workstation are far-reaching. These are mainly physical, but there are some psychological advantages as well, such as stress reduction.
As well as offering health benefits on an individual worker level, ergonomics has a lot of advantages for business owners. A better safety culture means fewer illnesses and injuries, which improves productivity overall. It also lessens the risk of costly payouts for workers’ compensation.
Ergonomics has also been shown to bolster employee productivity by minimizing fatigue and improving engagement.
Tips on Maximizing Ergonomics in the Workplace
Prioritizing ergonomics is a good first step, but to truly realize its benefits you’ll need to read up on the right steps to take. Below are some of the most important things to keep in mind when setting out a plan for setting up an ergonomic workstation.
Posture is one of the key elements of an ergonomic workstation. Over time, poor posture can lead to a host of musculoskeletal issues.
Whether you’re sitting or standing while you work, you should be able to do so in a neutral position. If you find yourself having to strain to reach certain things or perform certain tasks regularly, you need to address this issue.
If you’re an employer, you can promote good posture by providing adjustable workstations for your employees.
As noted above, the key to ergonomics is individual variation. Workers come in all different shapes and sizes, which means that a one-size-fits-all workstation is going to cause problems.
Adjustable workbenches allow you to give every employee the same workstation without compromising on individual optimization. They also allow users to swap or share workstations without issue (in multi-shift, multi-operator facilities, for example).
Keyboard & Mouse Positioning
Nowadays, many people in an industrial setting will have to use a computer for a large stretch of their working day. If this is you, you’ll need to be careful about where you put your keyboard and mouse relative to your body.
This might sound trivial, but the position of your keyboard and mouse will have a huge bearing on your posture and comfort over time.
When using your keyboard and mouse, your arms should remain straight and parallel to the floor. In order to ensure this is the case for you, adjust your seat and desk height.
You should never keep a tight grip on your mouse, as this will tire out your muscles over time. Hold it as gently as you can while still maintaining control.
Again, if you are an employer, you need to have the right accessories in place that allow employees to work in this manner.
A lot of the work of ergonomics relates to repetitive motion, and ways in which you can reduce it. While it might seem harmless, repetitive motion is a huge risk factor in terms of musculoskeletal disorders.
Unfortunately, many jobs are highly repetitive by nature, particularly in industrial settings. In such cases, the job of mitigating these risks falls to management.
If members of your staff carry out tasks that require the same type of movement over and over again, try to have them change positions periodically.
For example, you might have one worker who spends most of their day packing boxes, while another spends most of their time loading these boxes onto shelves or trucks. By allowing these operatives to switch roles several times a day, you will greatly reduce the risk of either of them suffering an illness or injury due to repetitive strain.
For workers of all kinds, regular movement is hugely important.
If your work requires you to stand up all day, make sure to take time to sit down every now and again. This is particularly important for older workers, as your joints become less resistant to stress as you advance in years.
Even younger people can suffer joint pain and discomfort if they fail to take the proper preventative measures.
If you’re an employer, make sure to facilitate and encourage these kinds of practices.
Access to Essential Tools and Supplies
When setting up a workstation, pay particular attention to how often certain tools and supplies are used in the work process. Keep items that are used often close and those that are used less frequently further away.
An industrial workstation is typically divided up into three “Reach Zones”. The closest Reach Zone (Zone 1) should include all items that need to be accessed several times a minute, with other items being placed into Reach Zones 2 and 3.
Leveraging Ergonomics to Stay Healthy in the Workplace
With so many threats to our health, it’s important to make sure we prevent harm wherever possible. Using an ergonomic workstation maximizes your chances of staying physically and mentally healthy during long hours at work.
If you want to learn more about ergonomics or make an inquiry about the products we offer, contact us today.