Seven ways to instantly improve workplace ergonomics

Good ergonomics is essential to a productive and healthy workforce – and they cost almost nothing to implement.

Linda Trim, Director at workplace design specialists Giant Leap: “All enterprises should strive to create an ergonomically sound workspace for all employees. Quality furniture and good design is of course a great help, but it is the responsibility of each person to make sure they are using good ergonomics at their own workstations.”

Here are 7 easy-to-implement tips that will help optimise ergonomics:

1. Good working posture

The number one ergonomic priority is establishing a good working posture. “People should be able to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks, “ Trim said. Office workers should sit with hands, wrists, and forearms that are straight, inline, and parallel to the floor. The head should be level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right, and generally be in line with the torso.

2. Adjustable chairs and desks

To encourage good posture and the neutral body position, enterprises should install high-quality adjustable chairs, furniture, and equipment. “The more positions a chair and desk can adjust to, the more they can be tailored to the individual using them. When it comes to ergonomics, one size most definitely does not fit all, “ Trim noted.

3. Proper display height and distance

Monitors and other display devices should be placed at eye level. Viewing a display should not require straining the neck nor squinting the eyes. Ergonomics dictates that individuals not be required to turn their neck to the left, right, up, or down to view a display.

4. Keyboard and mice position

Said Trim: “While often ergonomic afterthoughts, the proper keyboard and mouse configuration is just as important as posture when it comes to neutral body positioning.” If people are reaching for the mouse at a bad angle or have to violate the inline parallel rule for elbows and wrists, they are going to lose neutral positioning. Reaching for input devices can lead to excessive fatigue, and after lengthy exposure, injury. Keyboards and mice should be accessed without breaking any of the neutral positioning rules.

5. Reducing repetitive movement

Even if an individual applies perfect ergonomic principals, repeating the same motion over and over will cause stress and eventually lead to injury.

“The best way to combat this is by changing tasks. Doing something else even for a short time will reduce potential for injury, “ Trim advised. When changing the task is not possible, individuals should periodically change the neutral positioning they are using – from the upright sitting position to standing, reclined sitting, or declined sitting.

6. Standing up and moving around

For office workers, this is a really important tip. Once an hour, workers should stand up and take a few minutes to walk down the hall, get a drink, look out the window, anything that gets them out of their chair.

7. Environmental setting

Often overlooked when discussing ergonomics is the overall working environment. “Proper lighting, temperature and humidity are ergonomic essentials,” said Trim.

Lighting should not cause glare on computer screens, which means that many workplace settings should be equipped with softer light systems. Lighting that is good for reading printed material is not necessarily the best lighting for computer displays

Temperature settings are trickier since because of individual preferences, but every attempt should be made to maintain a temperature that is comfortable for as many people as possible.

Trim added that Giant Leap advise user training with all of their projects to allow people to get the benefits out of their furniture and office.

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