What Ergonomic Measures Can Be Taken In Your Workplace?
By making improvements to the work process and environment, you’re removing barriers to maximize safe work performance, providing employees with a job that’s within their body’s capabilities, and contributing to your company’s bottom line.
According to the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders like carpal tunnel, chronic back pain, and herniated discs account for over one-third of lost-time injuries and every $1 in $3 spent on workers’ compensation costs.
In other words, taking these ergonomic measures will pay off in the long run.
Throughout this post series, I've explored topics such as ergonomic risk factors, and prevention methods, and discussed the best ways that YOU can create a safe work environment that supports your body instead of depleting it.
*This series contains two other posts, "What Does An Ergonomic Work Environment Look Like And Why Should I Support It" and "How Is Your Workplace Design?*
How Bad Is Sitting All Day Really?
"Sitting is the new smoking." Have you heard that phrase? Maybe shrugged it off a little. Well, there is truth in this sentence.
You’ve likely heard something about the health risks of spending all day sitting at a desk. Perhaps you've come across standing desks, or other specialty tools designed to help people avoid extended periods of sitting.
Hundreds of studies chronicle the pitfalls of sitting, and all of them have produced similar findings: If you’re spending the majority of your day sitting, you’re going to have lower energy. This low energy is going to contribute to a host of health problems from chronic pain, to obesity and mental issues.
If you’re someone who sits for long periods throughout the day, here are some quick and easy ways to get a little more movement in:
- Take a break every 30 minutes. Walk around or do a few stretching exercises in your cubicle to relax the chest and hip muscles.
- Get out of your chair and have face time with coworkers instead of communicating with them on the computer.
- Run errands—or at least walk quickly—during your lunch break.
- Forget the elevator, take the stairs instead.
- Get off the subway one stop before your destination and walk the rest of the way.
- Maintain the housework yourself instead of paying someone to do it. Vacuuming, washing the car, and doing yard work can get the blood pumping.
- When watching TV, do a few exercises during the commercials.
Try to go out of your way to get a little extra movement in. Consider what you could incorporate into your routine to get your blood pumping more.
Think About Your Employees
When it comes to eliminating or decreasing ergonomic injuries, training is a crucial component of any health and safety program. Proper education and training on how to prevent ergonomic injuries such as carpal tunnel or lower back injuries is the best way to get a return on investment when it comes to employee safety training. However, the success of training is largely based on consistent application.
If you’re in a position to do so, make it a priority to remind workers of ways to reduce strain throughout the day. Post images of exercises in break areas, send out email reminders with videos that employees can save on their desktops, or even consider hiring a yoga instructor to show your workers some moves!
Consider how you can go beyond the HR protocol of “lift with your legs,” and explore new ways that you could support ergonomic training for you, your employees, and/or your colleagues.
For any program to be successful, senior management should not only display their support but be a powerful voice behind prevention.
In the case of ergonomics, information and training protocol should flow from the top down and reach all levels of management. Once this occurs, it will be clear to employees that injury prevention IS a priority, and SHOULD be taken seriously.
Consider how this might play out in your workspace. Get into the head of your employees and colleagues and think about what you might want to hear from management about ergonomic support that would influence the way you go about your day.