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What is Ergonomics and How Does it Benefit You?

What is Ergonomics?

The International Ergonomics Association defines ergonomics thus: “Ergonomics (or human factors) is the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” onestopergonomics.com offers a wide variety of products that assist in providing correct ergonomics in the workplace.

 

Physical ergonomics

                                        

Physical ergonomics is the science of designing worker interaction with equipment and workplaces to fit the specific needs of the user. Physical ergonomics studies human anatomy, and how to design and arrange workplace machinery and furniture to minimize injuries to the musculoskeletal system.

 

Examples of ergonomic alterations and modifications abound:

  • Office chairs
  • Computer desks
  • Keyboard modifications
  • Screwdriver handles made with serrations to improve finger grip
  • Pencil grips
  • Mice
  • Keyboard trays
  • Workplace stations
  • Workplace accessories

The Mayo Clinic gives you advice on why these items are so important and how to use them correctly.

Ergonomics specialists onestopergonomics.com specialize in the supply of these items. Their selection of products is vast.

  • Monitor mounts and monitor arms.

The client base for these items includes banking, government, and schools, as well as provision for the home office environment.  All of these items not only allow the most efficient use of desk space, but they also elicit optimum monitor positioning; experts recommend that a monitor should be positioned at eye level and arm’s length in order to avoid serious issues with neck strain.

  • A selection of ergonomic seating.

Having an office chair with the best of ergonomic design doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on style. Chairs are available in both modern and traditional forms and in a variety of colors from vivid to muted.  You have all the interior design options you could want while still having the benefit of vital ergonomic benefits such as a seat and back that are wide enough to support the user, fully adjustable seat height, lumbar support for protection against problems in the lumbar region of the back, and padding to the seat for comfortable and healthy prolonged sitting.

  • Adjustable Foot Rests

This may come as news but when sitting for a long period of time it is important that you have a comfortable position in which to rest your feet.  You should not sit with your feet flat on the floor all of the time but should move them around, this helps to prevent the occurrence of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  If doing this creates pressure on the lower back and calves, footrests relieve this pressure; some allow a rocking motion which helps with the movement of the feet and legs.

  • Wrist rests to suit the individual

If you regularly use a keyboard for any length of time, incorrect wrist positioning can result in a lot of problems.  Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is common amongst office workers and is both painful and debilitative.  The use of a suitable wrist rest can help prevent the development of RSI.  It also decreases the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition whereby the median nerve is compressed restricting movement in the hand and causing loss of feeling and numbness. 

  • Ergonomic phone arms and desk phone stands

Reaching to answer the phone on a desk can result in overstretching.  This, in turn, can lead to chronic musculoskeletal problems over time, or to acute injury.  Both of these situations are more likely to occur if the user has an oversize or L-shape desk.  A phone stand or arm allows the phone to be positioned in such a way that the need to stretch is removed, limiting the chance of injury.

  • Keyboard Trays and Drawers

Using a keyboard tray or drawer not only allows a desk to be tidied for the acquisition of more space but also allows the keyboard to be raised to an ergonomically beneficial height for optimal use.  Keyboard trays can also be attached to a desk, or mounted on a wall to allow the height to be adjusted; this is especially useful if the user has to use a standing work station. 

Benefits of Physical Ergonomics in the Workplace

There are several benefits to physical ergonomics study and modification of workplace setting, equipment, and furniture.

  • Improved safety. The result is fewer workplace injuries and a decrease in sick days and an increase in productivity.
  • Decreased healthcare costs. Fewer injuries, lost workdays, and claims result in significant savings for the employer.
  • Improved productivity and efficiency. Modifications result in workers being able to do their jobs more efficiently.
  • Reduced operating and training costs when routines are analyzed and streamlined.
  • Increased revenue, lower healthcare costs, higher productivity, fewer equipment problems all result in more profits.
  • Improved product quality, work processes and quality of work life result in happier, healthier, more productive employees.
  • When recruiting new employees, physical ergonomics is viewed as an improvement in working conditions and thus an appealing perk for potential employees.
  • Higher productivity and lower costs result in the company having an improved competitive advantage in the marketplace.

 

Disadvantages of Workplace Ergonomics

 

There are, however, some disadvantages:

  • Cost constraints: Costs of hiring a qualified ergonomic specialist
  • Cost of equipment/furniture/ workplace environmental changes
  • The time required to analyze and implement changes
  • Loss of productivity when retraining staff
  • Cost and time required to complete a task or worksite analysis

 

Musculoskeletal Injuries

One of the most common work-related injuries is musculoskeletal disorders (WRMD). Work-related musculoskeletal disorders produce persistent pain, loss of functional capacity and often lead to long or short term work disability.

Some jobs or workplace conditions result in a higher rate of worker complaints. Things like: undue strain, localized fatigue, pain, persistent soreness, lack of movement, or lingering discomfort.

Jobs that result in higher-than-average WRMD often involve activities with:

  • repetitive and forceful exertions (e.g., construction)
  • frequent, heavy, or overhead lifts (e.g., bricklayer landscaper)
  • awkward work positions (e.g., plumber, painter)
  • use of vibrating equipment (e.g., jackhammer operator, lawn mower)

 

Ergonomics and Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has concrete proof that ergonomics programs cut workers' compensation costs, increase productivity and decrease employee turnover.

Employers are encouraged to gather data and identify jobs or work conditions that are most likely to result in WRMD situations. Good sources for this data include:

  • Human resources complaints files
  • Injury and illness logs
  • Medical records
  • Ergonomics professional job analyses.

How Can Ergonomics Help?

Science studies and research coupled with what we know about human anatomy stresses the importance of creating ways to ensure that employees move in the workplace.

Check out your Office Furniture

If you are stuck behind a desk all day, there are a number of things you can do to keep your body healthy. One of the most important is to check whether your chair is supporting your body properly.

Many people do not use the backrest properly to support the lower back. As they sit down they aim their bottom at the middle of the seat, then to reach the backrest they slouch backward. Are you guilty of this? Place your sitting bones toward the back edge of the chair as you sit down.

No matter how ergonomically sound your chair is, breaks are crucial.  After twenty minutes,   back muscles start to tense. This happens even when the chair is adjusted to completely support your back. Taking breaks keeps your muscles from tightening up.

How can the Experts Help?

Whether you are a larger business employing several workers, a smaller business with only a handful of staff, or a sole proprietor who works from a home office, you have a responsibility for the health and safety of yourself and of your workers.  Ergonomic office furniture and equipment are part of this responsibility.  Not only does the correct use of this equipment preserve the health of employees, but it also reduces the loss of revenue that results from absence due to illness and injury.  If you are a sole proprietor and cannot work you are not going to have any income. 

You can clearly see how important it is to have an ergonomically efficient office; the experts can help you to ensure that this happens; call or click onestopergonomics.com today, they are waiting to assist you with your ergonomic design needs. 

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