Ergonomics is all about creating balanced and healthy relationships between employees and the working environment. Consequently, different workplaces will have their own particular impacts on individuals and their performance. But by designing equipment and workstations – and structuring routine tasks – in an ergonomic way, organizations can reduce the chance of work-related injuries such as RSI and upper limb disorders (ULDs). Where workflows are based display screen equipment, such as desktop computers and laptops, following a few simple ergonomic principles can make work safer and more productive.
Posture and badly designed chairs are among the main causes of back pain and other work-related injuries. As always, prevention is better than cure: injuries can be avoided if organizations work with their employees to ensure they can work comfortably and safely. It may, for example, be necessary for a company to invest in new chairs and desks that are height adjustable, and which make it easier to adapt a workstation. However, it’s just as important that employees sit in the right way, with their hips pushed back in the chair and feet flat on the floor. To ensure shoulders are relaxed, arms should be rested on armrests or a desk, while additional back support will help prevent pain in the lower and upper back.
Many employees will already be aware of the importance of positioning the screen at eye level. Very simply, having the screen in the right position helps employees to avoid awkward angles and neck positions when they’re working at a computer. If they have to work long hours and get through a busy schedule, however, it’s possible that they’ll spend all day at the screen. As well as increasing the potential for musculoskeletal disorders and pain, this can damage an employee’s eyesight. That’s why it’s important to take regular breaks from the workstation, whether it’s getting up to make a cup of coffee or just to stretch the legs. Ensure that glare is minimized by careful adjustment of the screen and lighting, and that encourage people to look away from the screen periodically to give their eyes a rest.
Fit for Purpose
Every employee’s different and this difference should be reflected in the workstation. That means creating an environment where input devices such keyboards and mice, as well as the chair and desk, can be adjusted to fit. This might sound like a tall order, but there are some simple ways to achieve it, whether it’s with adjustable keyboard trays and monitor stands or innovations such as standing desks and fitness ball chairs. This will ensure that employees are able to adjust their workstation accordingly, keeping their screen, back and arms all in an ergonomic position.
Does your business have an ergonomic training policy or have you recently made the switch to a standing desk? Let us know your thoughts on ergonomics in IT via LinkedIn.