10 tips for creating an ergonomic office
An ergonomic office is increasingly essential for a safe workplace. Long hours at office and computer-centred jobs mean people are finding ergonomics to be a necessity rather than an option.
Ergonomic office products manufacturer Kare has published a list of 10 tips for improving the ergonomics of your office, and improving workplace health and safety.
1. One of the most important features of an office is the chair. Every office should have ergonomic office chairs so that every person will be able to make the necessary adjustments in order to get comfortable. The workers can then sit with their feet on the floor, helping to avoid strain to the back and legs.
2. Another important part of every office is the desk. Ergonomic desks are adjustable also, but the adjustments are specifically made to help the workers achieve the right height for spending many hours at the desk. Also, there are now ergonomic desks that are for both sitting and standing, giving the workers the ability to change positions, avoid putting pressure on the same muscles and bones, and allowing the workers to stay in better physical health.
3. The computer monitor should also be considered. Monitors should be placed at arm’s length, about 18-24 inches, from the body. The head should not be tilted up or down when viewing the monitor, but the head should be parallel with the screen. It may be necessary to move the monitor to avoid reflection and glare.
4. Another piece of equipment to consider is the computer keyboard. Repetitive typing can cause undue stress on the joints and muscles of the hands, wrists and elbows. An ergonomic keyboard is split in two pieces to make it possible for the arms and wrists to get into a good, healthy position. Risks or tendonitis and other aches and pains can be avoided.
5. One very helpful item to consider with office ergonomics is a program with a timer to remind the workers to stretch and move their muscles. Some reminder programs are available online and are free. The alarm will go off at the desired time, perhaps every half hour, to remind the computer and desk personnel to stretch their muscles, particularly in the neck, arms and fingers. Office workers will then be reminded to take short breaks and move their muscles to avoid the tension from repeatedly doing the same tasks such as typing, talking on the phone or filing.
6. Another thing to consider is how workers bend and lift things in the office. Lower back pain and cervical disk herniation can develop by sitting or filing for long periods of time and then bending over incorrectly. Keeping their necks and heads in line with the spines will help the workers avoid back problems, as they bend forward from the hips and not their backs. It’s important to remember to lift heavy objects from the legs rather than the back. When lifting, it helps to squat down first, as this will take the pressure off the back.
7. Using proper posture at the keyboard will help reduce repetitive stress injuries. Cradling a phone while typing or sitting all day in a slouched position are a couple of common scenarios that cause reduced circulation and result in tension and strain to the body. Balance, alignment and height are most important to keep the body in top shape.
8. Lighting in the office should be considered as well. Productivity increases when people work in natural light and fatigue and stress are reduced. Workers can see and work better with the curtains and blinds open, letting in the sunlight.
9. Those who work long hours on a computer or at their desks need to be allowed to take short breaks to grab a snack or drink, stretch, walk around and speak to other. In the long run, the breaks will result in greater work satisfaction and increased productivity. Workers will become discontent and disgruntled when the rules and hours in the office are too strict.
10. It can be stressful to work in an office environment day after day. Although every person is different, each one must find a method that will help him or her reduce the stresses of work and home. Getting plenty of rest, incorporating exercise into the day and not pushing beyond reasonable expectations will help reduce stress and make the work day more manageable.
Incorporating ergonomic principles into the work place are not difficult, but are mostly common sense ideas that we already know. In this day of modern technology and the rush to accomplish and get ahead of our competitors, it’s easy to ignore our bodies. This will only result in greater health problems and less productivity. People will be more satisfied, be more productive and enjoy their jobs more if some minor changes are made in the office.