In the most recent data, about more than 5.5 million people were injured in their workplace, and more than 1.7 million of those injuries were serious enough to cause workers to leave work. The statistics are even more alarming when you consider the fact that only about half of all work injuries are reported, so the real number may be even higher. What's more, according to OSHA, workplace injuries cost companies nearly $200 billion each year. Frightening, right?
After seeing this as a threatening issue, we decided to create an ultimate guide to enhance the workplace ergonomics health and safety of a certain workplace. Keep on reading while in the right posture!
Defining Workplace Ergonomics
Workplace ergonomics or work environment ergonomics is the science of designing and arranging workplaces, equipment, and procedures to maintain workers' health, safety, and performance. It's about ensuring a healthy working environment that will allow you to work comfortably for as long as possible.
Overview of Work-Related Musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs)
According to statistical data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the most common work-related injuries in the United States. It's estimated that MSDs affect up to 80% of workers at some point in their lives.
Apparently, MSDs are the most common cause of worker's compensation claims. The impact on businesses can be significant, with costs ranging from $8 billion to $50 billion annually. Also, MSDs also have a profound effect on worker productivity and morale. That is why maintaining good ergonomic health and safety practices in a certain workplace is very significant.
How to identify a potential ergonomic hazard in your workplace?
Ergonomic hazards are any factors that place stress on the body and can cause pain, discomfort, or injury. They can be physical or psychological in nature. The most common ergonomic hazards include:
- Poorly designed workstations (including equipment and tools)
- Inadequate lighting (including glare from computer screens)
- Inadequate ventilation (including temperature extremes)
- Poorly designed furniture and equipment.
- Inappropriate clothing (unappealing belt sizes)
- Inadequate training on how to use tools, equipment, and workstations
- Poorly designed procedures (including communication between departments)
How do you set up a workplace to meet ergonomic standards?
Meeting ergonomic standards in office work can be hard because it often involves changes to the layout of your office space. If you're remodeling or building a new office, this will be easier.
If you have an existing workspace, however, there are several steps that can help improve its ergonomic office environment:
Designate a Place for Everything
You should have a designated place for everything in your office. This includes items like staplers, pens, and paperclips, as well as furniture such as chairs and desks. Train your employees on how to use their equipment properly.
Adjust Chair Height to the Right Level
If your employees have to sit all day, make sure their chairs are adjustable. Adjust the seat height so that the thighs are parallel to the ground and there's a 90-degree angle at the knees. This can help reduce back pain and prevent injuries from repetitive motion. Also, invest with a good belt without buckle to ease tummy pain.
Adjust your chair so that it supports your back and allows you to sit up straight without slouching, if you don't have belt without buckle. Also, set and follow some workplace chairs regulations if possible. All these tips are paramount in achieving a good posture.
Optimize Desk and Chair Position
If you have a desk and chair, place both so that your arms are at 90 degrees to your body. Your elbows should be slightly bent, allowing for good circulation and less stress on the joints. Also, adjusting chair height will help you to sit properly even if you're wearing huge belt sizes.
If your desk and chair are not adjustable, you can still optimize the position. If possible, adjust the height of your monitor so that when looking directly at it, there is no strain on your eyes or neck.
Provide a Document Holder
Always provide many document holders within the workplace to keep everything organized. It should be located at eye level and directly in front of you. Also, it should hold the top page of your documents so that when reading, you can look down occasionally to scan for information without having to move your head.
Ensure Adequate Keyboard and Mouse Placement
The keyboard and mouse should be properly placed to avoid strains on your wrist or hand when using them. You can invest in a keyboard tray because some people find it more comfortable and versatile. Also, invest in an ergonomic mice or keyboard if it fits your budget for additional protection.
Include an Anti-Fatigue Mat
Anti-fatigue mats aren't your ordinary mats. These are specially designed to help decrease fatigue while standing. These mats are typically placed at the front of your desk so you can rest your feet on them during long periods of work. especially when your tummy digs in due to huge buckle and belt sizes.
The mat is also designed to be comfortable enough that you can stand on it for long periods of time without feeling like your feet are hurting. Many anti-fatigue mats include an indented center section that allows air to circulate under your feet, which helps keep them cool. With these tips, you’ll be able to manage both workplace ergonomics and stress at the same time.
The footrest can help relieve pressure on your feet, ankles, and legs when you're standing. It's typically a small platform that attaches to your desk or chair and allows you to place the balls of your feet on it as you work.
When standing for long periods of time, it can get tiring. If you have footrests on your desk, place your feet on them every so often to give them a break. The same is true if you're sitting at a desk all day.
Monitor Computer Screen Brightness
If you work on a computer for eight hours or more each day, it's important to monitor your screen brightness. Bright screens can cause eye strain and fatigue if they're too bright or if you have to look at them for long periods of time.
If possible, adjust the brightness settings on your monitor so that they aren't so bright that they hurt your eyes (or other people in your office). The screen on your computer can be one of the biggest drains on your eyes. You can also use software that automatically adjusts brightness and filters blue light.
Consider Using a Headset
Have you ever experienced ears and eye strains due to noise and loudness? The speakers on your computer can make it difficult to hear clearly, especially if you have a lot of background noise in your environment.
If you frequently use your computer for phone calls or video chats, consider getting a headset with noise-canceling capabilities. This will help reduce the amount of background noise that affects the quality of the call and make it easier for you to focus on what's being said, hence less stress on the job.
Set Clothing Standards for Comfortability
In addition to setting clothing standards for professionalism, you should also set standards for comfortability. The more comfortable you are while working, the more productive you'll be.
If you have a job that requires sitting at a desk all day, make sure your chair is ergonomically designed so that it supports your back and thighs properly. Your outfit shouldn't be too tight or too loose. If too tight, the material can rub against your skin and cause discomfort plus pressure problems. Loose clothes aren't good for air-conditioned rooms.
For accessories, choose those that promote comfortability. Instead of wearing buckle belts, why not use belt without buckles for added comfort?
Hope you have learned something while maintaining your posture and that you will be able to apply or suggest these tips in your workplace. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions for future articles, feel free to leave them in the comments below!