Ergonomics is about designing for people. It’s the science of fitting a workplace and adjusting tools to the user’s needs, putting emphasis on posture.
The rise of technology in the modern workplace has greatly increased the need for ergonomics. Desks, chairs, monitors, keyboards, and lighting all need to be assessed when creating a workspace. Movement is also important to find balance in comfort between sitting and standing.
Think about your computer monitor’s angle, and if your eyes are strained by the end of the day; or the height of your desk, and if your wrists hurt from typing. These factors may seem minor, but they have a huge impact on every employee’s performance and, consequently, the company’s success.
Ergonomics is not about luxury, and is more than mere comfort. It has become a crucial need in the workplace because of the following major benefits it provides to both employees and employers:
Boosting productivity and efficiency
Research previously mentioned by Headspace reveals that happy employees are 12% more productive than their unhappy counterparts. Employee wellbeing is a huge source of employee happiness, leading to a boost in productivity and efficiency.
If an office employee, for example, uses an ergonomic keyboard, mouse, and a sit-stand desk, she’ll find the right angles and adjustments of her positions and movements for her body type. She’ll work without pain and switch frequently between sitting and standing for excellent blood circulation and energy that lasts all day. She’ll accomplish all her tasks most days, sleep soundly, and look forward to starting again the next day.
Employees who spend time concentrating on their work more than their pain also come up with better ideas and have high productivity and efficiency rates. Therefore, it’s best to create a wellness-focused culture, part of which is built on investment in ergonomics.
Reducing risk of injury
Jobs in high-risk industries like construction and manufacturing are exposed to various health risk factors in the workplace. These factors include issues such as reaching overhead, lifting heavy items, pushing and pulling heavy objects, bending, and wrong body postures.
But even desk-based jobs hold some physical risk, too. A workplace health report on Pain Free Working highlights how those working more sedentary jobs are also at risk of physical distress — from neck and knee pain, to more serious conditions like high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol. According to a recent report on Open Access Government, a large percentage of 600,000 or so workplace injuries recorded every year in the U.K. can be traced back to outdated and unsafe office furniture.
Moreover, work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are among the most-common reported causes of job loss and absenteeism. However, rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis, muscle strains, and back injuries can be prevented by ergonomics, because equipment can be adjusted to fit each body type and reduce the risk of injury.
Spending less on workers’ compensation
A major benefit of workplace ergonomics is how it cuts costs in terms of employee recovery from work-related injury.
Some studies focusing on the way people work have found that on average, a third spent on worker’s compensation comes from insufficient ergonomics. Moreover, ergonomics-related injuries are the reason for a third of days-away-from-work cases. Furthermore, when people take days off for a Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), they need more time to recover.
If you compare these figures with a healthy investment in ergonomics, the right equipment costs a fraction of what you’ll pay for one RSI.
Overall, by empowering employees with the highest quality ergonomics, greater productivity and quality of work will be achieved, all while protecting and promoting their wellbeing.