Ergonomics is defined as the study of people and their working environment. It incorporates both the physical stresses of a job, as well as environmental factors that impact your health and wellbeing.
The aim of ergonomics is to design the workplace to match the worker, rather than the other way around. An office with good ergonomics will have a reduced risk of workplace illness and injury, which means improved productivity and a better workplace culture.
The costs of not having an ergonomic workplace are high. Safe Work Australia estimates that the economic cost of work-related injuries in Australia for the 2012-13 year was $61.8 billion, with research suggesting that the most common types of injuries are sprains and strains (33%) followed by chronic joint or muscle conditions (21%).
An office relocation or refurbishment is the ideal time to consider the ergonomics of your workplace. Our team has put together a few ideas to help your employees stay healthy and happy at work.
It’s important to choose ergonomic chairs that have lumbar support, to prevent injuries to the lower back. The chair should also be completely adjustable, with the ability to change the height and angle. Try to spend a full day in each chair before buying in bulk, so you can make sure it’s right for you. Often a chair that seems comfortable in the store or for a few hours becomes uncomfortable when used at your desk for long periods of time.
Ergonomic Office Desks
The height of your office desks are important, particularly in relation to the chairs that employees will use. When sitting at their desk, employees arms should form a right angle of 90 degrees and their feet should be flat on the ground or resting on an adjustable footrest. Consider the position of the keyboard and mouse—employees should be able to use these regularly without needing to reach or twist their body, as this can cause Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). Computers should be at eye level and within arms reach, to support good posture and reduce eye strain.
Desks that can be raised or lowered in height are a bonus, as employees can choose to sit or stand and adjust the height to suit their needs. Computer monitors with adjustable arms are also recommended, as they can be moved to suit different heights and angles.
Look at your office holistically and consider other aspects that may impact the health and wellbeing of your employees. Have you considered how noise will travel through the office, or allocated quiet spaces in the office for employees? Is there enough room at each workstation for employees to fulfil their duties, with easy access to printers, bathrooms and other facilities? Do you have a good balance of natural and artificial lighting? What about humidity and temperature control?
These questions will help you design an office that reduces the risk of illness and injury, while keeping employees motivated and productive every day.
Want to know more? Contact us to find out how we can design an ergonomic workplace for your office relocation or refurbishment.