Are you stiff and uncomfortable before, during, and after work? Does your workplace offer the proper accommodations to ensure your safety, comfort, and productivity? Let us introduce you to ergonomics.
Ergonomics refers to a scientific discipline that is the process of designing and arranging the workplace to tailor to its employees. The goal is to fit the job to the person, not the person to the job. No matter where we work, it’s imperative that our environments are equipped to support us physically because, with proper support from your surroundings, it’s much easier to do your job to the best of your ability if you are comfortable and happy while doing it.
Overall, the underlying principles of ergonomics believe that optimizing our work environment for comfort will increase productivity and efficiency because when you’re doing a job and your body is stressed by an awkward posture, extreme temperature, or repeated movement, your musculoskeletal system is affected. Your body may begin to have symptoms such as fatigue, discomfort, and pain, which can be the first signs of a musculoskeletal disorder.
How do Ergonomics make your Workplace more Productive?
The answer is fairly simple if we all ask ourselves one question, who wants to work in unstable conditions? Uncomfortable working conditions are painful for your workers and kill your productivity. Ergonomics can help bring comfortability and ease physical duress.
Proper ergonomics have many benefits, primarily if you work in a physical job, such as in warehouses. Ergonomics in these settings can reduce the exertion required and prevent possible injuries; ergonomic equipment can reduce work effort, making even the most intense jobs easier. A comfortable workspace results in more focus, energy, and better performance. Implementation of ergonomics can reduce awkward working positions freeing up space from how uncomfortable you are to be able to focus on the job at hand. If you are uncomfortable, your work will slow down, and your performance will be sub-par, which is part of why ergonomics puts such heavy emphasis on comfort.
Workplace ergonomics can also reduce excessive, repetitive, or unnecessary motions that tire out workers. This happens by focusing on positioning and placement of different equipment, materials, and tools, cutting down on excessive movements.
How to create an Ergonomic Workspace?
Creating an ergonomic workspace can look different for each company or even individual. Other fields of work require different ergonomics but assessing the places ergonomics need to be implemented can be quite similar. You can make any workspace ergonomic by reflecting on ergonomic principles and keeping in mind the goal of any ergonomic workspace is maximizing your space to limit strain and increase comfort.
One of the first things you’ll want to do is identify any pains or strains. All field types have specific things they may be able to rearrange or change to help reduce pain in those fields. A warehouse worker may need a rubber floor mat so their feet don’t ache from standing on concrete, while an office worker may need a chair height correction as the posture in use is causing long-term body harm.
Ergonomics also aims to improve your posture. When working in a physical environment, use good form when moving and lifting heavy objects. Office workers can utilize a standing desk and choose an office chair with plenty of lumbar support.
There are many techniques to increase workplace ergonomics. The most important part is to examine your workplace and identify issues that lead to discomfort and reduced productivity. It’s important for workers to take care of their bodies and be provided with ways to do that. Here are some basic tips to help your workplace ergonomics.
Simple Ergonomic Principles to Keep in Mind!
Take Regular Breaks
Working for long periods can have serious health consequences; regular breaks, whether sitting or moving around for long hours, are necessary. Breaks are important to keep your productivity flowing, and we recommend you take a five-minute break every half hour; if work is busy, take a five-minute break every hour.
You may be asking what you should be doing during these breaks? Stretch! Whether an office job or physical job, stretching will decrease your risk of injuries, enable muscles to work effectively, and help you maintain good quality production.
Keep an Eye on your Posture
Keeping an eye on your posture is important in ergonomics, as bad posture strains your muscles and ligaments. Posture issues can also result in spine misalignment, causing unnecessary strain, leading to pain and worse. Never fret! There are ways to correct your posture; for example, keep your elbows tucked in while you type if you work at a desk. Your wrists should remain straight and neutral. Sit with your shoulders back and your back straight. If you struggle to do this, find a back cushion with lumbar support. You should sit with your feet flat on the floor, and the height of your knees should be even with your hips. Finally, avoid slouching; this generally happens if you get too comfortable, especially if your chair is reclined.
Keep your Work Rotating
Bosses cross-train workers so they can rotate jobs throughout the day or days so it is not putting the same strain in the same place on their bodies every day. Workers speak to bosses about being cross-trained not only to support a healthy body but also to support a healthy mind and be able to vary the daily tasks and often change tasks within your own job.
Job hazard analysis
Examine the entire process and what it entails. Don’t forget to assess the job hazards beyond the immediate risks of death or serious injury. To achieve this, break up each job into smaller or different tasks and determine the risk factor for each task. Determine how each task affects risk factors for the total job and then begin to divide and conquer—being equipped with a plan of attack and knowing which job risks will help keep your workers from over-exerting themselves helps reduce the risk to all individuals involved by divvying up the work.
Select and provide appropriate tools
There are many simple solutions to an amass of problems. For example, bending can be eliminated from many jobs by attaching a handle extension saving the worker from back pain after being hunched over for a long period of time. Applying the proper tool or tool extension can be a business changer simply by making the work easier for the worker and eliminating the discomfort it brings, allowing that worker to regain a sense of productivity instead of dreading having to stay hunched over every day.
Use your workers! Enlist your workers to brainstorm better ways to do their work; after all, no one knows how to do the work better than the one doing it. The people who do the job know the best way to improve it and may have ideas on how to do that! Most importantly, have trained workers teach new staff. There is nothing more frustrating than being a new employee being trained by another slightly less new employee who doesn’t know what they’re doing yet. It’s more efficient, advantageous, and timely to have new employees shown the ropes by established, experienced employees.
A great way to increase awareness and improve overall health is to educate your staff on the risk factors of extended, unnecessary, repetitive physical strain and how ergonomics can make that burden easier, more efficient, and safer. To help identify such problems in the workplace, train your staff to identify job tasks that may present a risk and determine better ways to complete those tasks. It’s easier to apply solutions to problems if you’re aware of them and what the problem is.
The importance of an individual approach!
Each of us comes in different shapes and sizes, with different likes and preferences; therefore, it’s important to examine ergonomics within the workplace against the range of individuals who work within it. Having said that, while employers are responsible for supporting ergonomics in the workplace, each employee is responsible for taking care of their physical health. Businesses need to make sure teams are supported physically as well as emotionally.
Ergonomic design is human-centered and can be beautifully combined with design, functionality, form, ease of use, enjoyment, and pleasure. Your environment should provide a productive, happy, healthy workspace wherever you work.