How to Improve Ergonomics in the Workplace
Ergonomics is the concept of workspace design whose purpose is to facilitate productivity and well-being among a company’s employees. An understanding of workplace ergonomics is important for employers in order that their employees work as efficiently as possible. A safe, healthy, and well-designed working environment can help workers stay focused and alert for extended periods.
Ergonomics is particularly important in an office environment where workers can be sedentary for long periods of time, and the opportunities to move around are often very limited. Let's look in more detail on how to improve ergonomics in the workplace.
Good Posture While Working
Your body posture is the most important factor for good ergonomics. While sitting on an office chair, there are several things you should take note of to have a comfortable yet ergonomic posture. Firstly, your feet should be placed out in front of you, not under the chair.
Your knees shouldn’t make an angle of less than 98-100 degrees, and your back should be straight up at an angle of 90-110 degrees to your thighs. When using the keyboard and mouse of a computer, your elbows should be at an angle of between 90 and 120 degrees.
To facilitate these, not only should the mouse and keyboard be such that they do not require any more effort to use them than necessary; the office chairs and desks used should also be chosen for their ergonomic compatibility.
Adjustability of Desks and Chairs
Investing in adjustable desks and chairs is certainly worth it so that those employees who use them can work in a way that does not cause them avoidable aches and pains. Many modern office furniture designers have incorporated ergonomic theory into their designs, but it is not always the case, so choose carefully.
Using chairs, desks, and standing tables that have at least the basic height and angle adjustments is highly recommended for good ergonomics. This allows aligning monitors to be at the correct positions for persons of different heights. Adjusting these heights is important as it will determine how much stress and will be induced on the user’s neck and shoulder muscles during the day.
Correct Display Height and Distance
With adjustable desks and chairs, you can alter the height and angle at which you look at the display. You should adjust your chair and desk such that the top of your screen closely aligns to your eye level. Sitting at a position such that the screen is 18 to 24 inches away from your eyes is advised. You can adjust these positions slightly throughout the working day to find the one which is the most comfortable for you, especially if you feel your eyes are becoming strained.
Keyboard and Mouse
The position of your keyboard and mouse is a factor in ergonomics because these will determine where your hands are placed all day. The position of your hands will further decide how stressed your elbow, shoulder, and wrists are. The keyboard should be first aligned directly in front of the screen. It should be placed so that you are not stretching in any way to reach any of its keys.
The mouse should be placed 2 to 3 inches to the right or left of the keyboard on a mousepad. Getting a wireless mouse is recommended, especially if your mouse cable isn’t long enough to allow it to be placed exactly where you want it for maximum comfort.
Movement Throughout the Day
If you sit in one place all day, you will have often realized how stiff your muscles can become. We almost automatically stretch our arms and roll our necks when we get up from a position we have been sitting in for a long time. Instead of waiting for a break, it is highly beneficial if you stand up from your chair at least once every hour and walk a few steps around the office.
Working From Home
Many modern companies, thanks to the advance of the internet and data transfer speeds, give some employees the option of working from home. At home, these employees may not have access to, nor the budget for specialist ergonomic office furniture.
This does not mean that the idea of having an ergonomic home office should be abandoned. A lot can be achieved simply by placing certain pieces of equipment and furniture in specific positions and adjusting them where possible.
Given that an employer has a duty of care it is worth asking them if they would be willing to provide you with, or at least contribute funds towards, an office chair and desk which are ergonomic so that you can work in the most comfortable way.