According to the UK government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for 35% of all new and long-standing of work-related ill health. Unfortunately, poor ergonomics in the workplace contributes to MSDs such as carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain. MSDs are caused by stress to the body through heavy lifting, working in static or awkward positions, and repetitive motions. Good ergonomic design can help prevent these injuries. In fact, organisations that have well-defined office ergonomics plans lowered employee turnover by 34% and reduced the number of lost work days by 72%. To ensure your business is maintaining a healthy environment for employees, learn how to avoid these five ergonomic design flaws when planning out your office space.
Ergonomics in the workplace
Modern employees expect organisations to provide a healthy environment that supports their happiness and well-being. Research studies show that healthy workers are more productive and more likely to stay at a company. The most successful companies follow good ergonomic design principles to reduce stress and minimise injuries caused by bad posture and muscle overuse. According to the CDC, employees who spend many hours at a workstation under poor conditions may develop ergonomic-related problems resulting in MSDs. Poor ergonomics in the workplace include posture, vibration, temperature extremes, glare, inadequate lighting, and duration of exposure.
Office ergonomic tips to increase well-being
When planning your office space, take time to understand the needs of your employees in order to best fit ergonomic design with existing conditions and job demands. It’s important to learn the average age of your workforce and the types of tasks they perform. Do employees use laptops or desktop computers? Consider using environmental sensors to monitor workstation usage, lighting, and temperature and their effects on employees. After analyzing the data, make informed decisions that address or prevent problems associated with poor ergonomic design.
Five ergonomic design mistakes to avoid
To positively impact employee health and well-being, focus on how to improve ergonomics in the workplace. Here are five office ergonomic tips you can use to avoid common design flaws that take a toll on employee health:
1. No, not just any chair will do.
Poor sitting posture puts significant pressure on the spine, which can eventually lead to chronic back pain. But unfortunately, a good office chair is often difficult to find in the workplace. Doctors recommend office chairs that help individuals maintain neutral posture: feet flat on the floor; knees slightly higher than hips; and hips, shoulders and ears lined up. Since the neutral posture position is slightly different for everyone, the best workspaces should offer adjustable chairs. To prevent workers from slouching and hunching over, chairs that provide support for the lumbar curve are also important.
2. No room or incentive to move.
A sedentary lifestyle leaves core body structures weak and contributes to obesity and back pain. Supported by research, it is highly recommended for employees to get up, walk around, and stretch every 30 minutes to cut the risk of death. Part of a successful office ergonomics plan should provide ample space and time for employees to take breaks away from the workstation. Encouraging employees to get up and move is the best way to combat health issues that arise from prolonged sitting.
3. Keyboard and mouse placement: make sure it’s just right.
Another contributor to poor ergonomics in the workplace is improper placement of the keyboard and mouse. If they are placed too high, too low, or too far away on the desk, workers can slouch or awkwardly bend their wrists which causes discomfort and can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. Computer monitors that cause eye and neck strain.
When making improvements to office ergonomics, pay close attention to the placement of computer monitors and screens. Monitors should be an arm’s length away and placed at eye level so workers can easily scan without causing stress to the head and neck. Additionally, employees should be encouraged to follow the 20/20/20 rule to prevent eye strain: after 20 minutes of viewing, close eyes for 20 seconds, then stand up and stare 20 feet into the distance.
5. Lighting affects ergonomics too.
Good lighting is also an important part of well-designed ergonomics in the workplace. Take steps to provide access to natural light, good quality lighting, and reduced glare and shadows to prevent visual fatigue and headaches.
Retain healthy, happy workers with smarter office space design
Modern workers expect businesses to provide a healthy work environment and good ergonomic design to support well-being. Take steps now to find out workforce needs and deliver solutions that support better posture, avoid eye strain, and minimise musculoskeletal injuries. Asure Software can help your business design smarter office spaces that increase workforce productivity, employee health, and retention.