Have you heard of ergonomics? The term took off in the 1990s and currently refers to the science of designing the workplace designed with the capabilities and limitations of employees in mind. The human body can’t work the same way that machines do—we need breaks, we need to stretch, and our eyes get tired from staring at computer screens all day.
By increasing your awareness of existing and potential ergonomic issues in the office, you can improve not only physical comfort but productivity over time too.
Whether you’re an employee who wants to learn more about how to combat the potential effects of ergonomic issues, or you’re in a management position, and you’re looking for better ways to improve your workplace, this blog post series is an excellent resource for you!
*Post #1 out of 3 has already been published, go check it out at www.sustainabrain.com/post/work-environment *
Identify Challenges And Risks In Your Workplace Design
Several people have reached out to me about how to identify ergonomic challenges in the workplace, especially when it comes to other people.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you observe:
- Consider that not everybody is built the same way. Height, weight, and other factors play into a person’s ability to reach, lift, and perform their duties. With this in mind, take into account the height of your desks, the size of your tools, and other issues that might come up.
- Do you see most people slouching as they work? Do they not take breaks from staring at the computer screen for hours at a time? Are those who might otherwise work through breaks encouraged to take some time to reboot?
The human body is incredibly complex, and will not perform the same way that a machine will. Keep that in mind when considering how to design your workplace to better benefit the people working in it.
Observe your workspace (whether it’s a team or just yourself in a coffee shop), and list five things you notice about your physical state throughout your workday.
How To Set Up Your Desk Ergonomically
Millions of Americans sit at a desk for their job, which results in neck, shoulder, and back pain. When clients come to me with these issues, I recommend a shift in their workspace.
After making a few minor workspace adjustments, people are always surprised by how much better they feel.
For those of you who spend hours at a desk, consider these tips:
- Choose a chair with good back support. You may need to invest in a lumbar roll or supportive cushion that fits over the back of the chair. Next, adjust the height of the chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor and your thighs are parallel to the ground. If your feet can’t reach the ground, find something to rest your feet on so that they’re not hanging.
- When using a keyboard or mouse, wrists should be kept straight and supported by a wrist pad. Wrists should rest at the same level as your elbows, and your mouse should be within easy reach.
- Keep your computer monitor about an arm’s length away, and elevate your monitor so that the top of the screen is at or slightly below eye level.
If you DON’T work at a desk job, send me a message, and we’ll discuss some ways that you might be able to improve your workspace ergonomically.
Make at least ONE change to your workspace and practice working in it.
Select the Right Equipment For Your Workplace
Technology is always improving, and products get more and more user-friendly, but are you using the best tools you have at your disposal?
For example, while it may be common practice to use the landline at your desk, Bluetooth headsets would be a better option for your neck, shoulders, and arms if you spend long periods on the phone.
If you spend a lot of your day staring at a screen, consider investing in a pair of blue light-blocking glasses. The lenses are tinted with a yellow hue, which counteracts the harmful glare that can result in headaches, eye irritation, and even mild insomnia. My favorite brand is Felix Gray I have several pairs of these. I have a clear lens that blocks 40% of blue light, an Amber lens that blocks 75% of blue light, and I also have prescription glasses that are clear lenses that block 40% of light. These have worked best for me. However, there is another brand to consider as well called TrueDark which also has great products including the red lens which blocks 100% of junk light and is perfect for bedtime.
Do some research and find what new technology you might be able to take advantage of to better care for yourself while on the job.