As the number of employees who work in an office environment increases, so do the number of common office injuries. This is because many offices do not have an ergonomically-correct facility for their workers. In recent years, having an ergonomically-correct work environment has become as important as pay scales and benefits packages. Employees want to know that the time they put in the office on a daily basis is not contributing to a decline in their health with onset of afflictions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome or Repetitive Stress Injury.
Many people are not aware of the very, very significant benefits of an ergonomically correct workplace environment. Ergonomics encompasses a variety of different workplace conditions, including:
- Workstation design
- Shift Work
- Machine Design
In the past, problems associated with Repetitive Stress Injury and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, were reported in large numbers. Since companies have received more information over the last decade about how to set up a more ergonomically-correct environment, the number of instances of RSI and CTS has decreased. However, the numbers are still much higher than they should be given the wealth of information available about ergonomics and the workplace. This is why training for companies about the benefits of being ergonomically correct is so important. The more information that individual companies have, the better they can serve their employees and assist them in staying well and producing better results.
There are a number of benefits to working in an ergonomically-correct environment. They include:
- Peaces of mind, knowing you are working in safe, healthy conditions
- Increased productivity due to an elevated comfort level
- Lower occurrences of employee absence due to injuries from afflictions such as -RSI and CTS
- Lower instances of workers compensation claims due to repetitive stress injuries
Setting up an ergonomically correct workplace is not as hard as most would think. Taking small steps regularly can add up to big benefits in the end. Purchasing an ergonomically correct chair or keyboard can immediately help with some of the ailments people who work in an ergonomically-incorrect environment often experience.
Cost is often an issue, but you don’t have to spend too much at one time. For example, employers could begin by replacing one item at a time throughout the office. This would assist in bringing the office current on ergonomic regulations without having to spend a large chunk of money at once. The lack of funding is often the reason smaller offices cite when asked why their facility is not ergonomically correct. Making small improvements can take the monetary pressure off, while still allowing the employer to make ergonomic improvements.
Some of the main culprits that contribute to an unhealthy working environment include:
- An ergonomically-incorrect chair that does not provide proper back and leg support, leans back at an improper angle, does not contain arm supports and is not adjustable
- A workstation that sits too high or too low
- A mouse that does not provide zero to no tension
- A support for your wrist for when you are using the mouse
- A telephone with no neck support to keep from leaning into the phone and straining your neck
- A keyboard that is ergonomically incorrect with a design that causes you hands to constantly have to move back and forth along the entire length of the keyboard
- Low lighting that causes you to strain your eyes
- Sitting too long in one spot
- No foot support, which will allow your legs to be elevated to a proper angle
All of these culprits are easily solved by a combination of an ergonomically correct work environment and steps that you can take on your part to assure efficiency and an overall sense of general health.
Some steps that your employer can take include:
- Providing proper office equipment
- Conduct employee training on proper ergonomic practices
- Conduct periodic inspections of equipment to ensure everything is working properly
In addition to these steps, you can do things as well to ensure your own health. These steps include:
- Take frequent breaks
- Speak up if you are uncomfortable, having physical problems due to ergonomically incorrect conditions
- Be sure that all aspects of your workstation are in line with proper ergonomic procedure
- Listen and actively participate in ergonomic workplace training
- Keep detailed information on any ailments you’ve received as a result of an ergonomically incorrect workplace environment.
The combination of you and your employer’s knowledge of the importance of an ergonomically correct workplace will contribute to an increased level of productivity as well as a general sense of well-being at work. Studies have shown that happier employees produce better results and making sure your workplace is ergonomically correct is the first step to achieving such positive levels of success.