·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


7 Reasons Ergonomics Should Be a Priority in Lower-Risk Workplaces

— September 25, 2019

Ergonomics, the study of people’s efficiency in a working environment, provides helpful changes that increase safety and productivity.

Every workplace has its risks, but not all are addressed with the same urgency. While some jobs require immediate attention and having safety protocols in place, others can easily stay neglected. This pertains to lower-risk workplaces where employees do their tasks at desks, mostly in a sedentary position. Ergonomics, the study of people’s efficiency in a working environment, provides helpful changes in these situations.

In such occasions, ergonomic workplace design creates a comfortable setting which allows employees to work without developing certain health, functional and morphological disorders. These changes will create a more positive environment for employees and improve their performance of tasks. To that account, here are seven reasons ergonomics should be a priority in lower-risk workplaces that will make your business better.

Improved productivity

Productivity is a pillar of successful business and it completely depends on employees’ ability to do their jobs fully motivated and concentrated on the tasks. To have such a work environment, you will have to use ergonomic solutions to design a workplace which is comfortable and safe to your employees’ health. This means they will be able to maintain proper posture, easily reach for the things they need and make fewer motions to avoid repetitiveness.

Besides providing them ergonomic furniture and design, you should also offer training on proper sitting and standing at their workstations. This includes the distance from the screen, position of the body, when to stand up and when to sit, as well as how often to go for a walk, even if just to the kitchen. An employee in pain can’t fully concentrate on their work which leads to late admissions and missing deadlines. Moreover, if they perform their job poorly, it doesn’t only reflect on the company but also on your partners, clients, and customers which can affect your reputation and brand.

Cost reduction

Every business costs money, but the key is to not overspend on certain aspects. This is why investing in preventive ergonomic measures is cost-effective and beneficial for every business. As an employer, you should care for your workers and provide them with appropriate compensation in case of injury. While dangers of certain jobs are obvious, like construction sites or factory production lines, working at a desk is usually overlooked.

But an office job can cost a business greatly due to the onset of certain health conditions to which employees can file a compensation claim. Moreover, if an employee is unable to perform their job to the fullest or doesn’t show for work at all due to injuries, it will cost the company. Every business depends on deadlines and fulfilling their contracted obligations to clients, so having employees on sick leave may deter that. Basically, you will save money by keeping your employees healthy through ergonomic principles and design.

Safer workplace

Workplace safety is one of the most important issues every business should address even before it starts. And with ergonomics in place, a company shows that it’s committed to providing the best possible work conditions for its employees. Healthy employees are one of the most valuable assets for business and creating a better safety culture will make sure you have them in abundance. Moreover, you will create a respectable name for yourself and become a desirable employer which will give credibility to your brand.

The stronger the safety culture, the better employees’ performance, which will be reflected positively on production and revenue. Therefore, ergonomics are equally important as having an appropriate number of fire-extinguishers and smoke detectors since it will prevent accidents like back injuries and poor eyesight, among other things. This makes ergonomic design a complex process which includes not only appropriate furniture but also its position, lighting, and behavior.

Increased employee engagement

You employees will notice that you care for their safety and health. Not only will they feel better at their workstations, but also they will be grateful for providing them with ergonomic solutions. All this will improve their work ethics and turn them into loyal employees who are prepared to give their maximum.

Four men playing table tennis; image by Proxyclick Visitor Management System, via
Four men playing table tennis; image by Proxyclick Visitor Management System, via

Having this increased employee engagement will reduce turnover and lead to decreased absenteeism. But it will also bring new ideas and creativity to the job which can lead to some interesting and lucrative projects for the company. With higher motivation and involvement, employees will more easily find solutions and be able to solve burning issues quickly and efficiently.

Good posture

No matter if employees sit or stand at their workstations, posture is equally important in both cases. The principal of it is that employees should be in a neutral body position which doesn’t put any stress to their posture. The goal is to feel comfortable so they can perform their duties without feeling pain, strain or tension in their bodies.

When sitting down, a person should keep their hands, wrists, and forearms straight on the desk and parallel to the floor. Head should be facing forward with a computer screen at eye level and with a viewing distance from 20 to 40 inches. Ergonomic chairs can help greatly to keep posture in the proper position without slouching, and raising your feet on a small platform will keep allowing for undisturbed blood flow.

On the other hand, standing up for at least 30 minutes per hour is a healthier approach to workstations. With adjustable height desks, you can easily change positions from sitting to standing during working hours. To make the standing more comfortable, place anti-fatigue comfort mat from specialty stores like Mat Shop and stand straight with arms in a neutral position. Since sedentary positions carriy a lot of health risks, switching to standing is a good measure to prevent them and enhance employee performance.

Higher quality of work

If your employee feels discomfort, pain or lack of motivation, the quality of work is jeopardized. This is a serious issue since sometimes it can lead to potentially dangerous situations. For example, if an employee experiences wrist pain they may not be able to tighten a screw sufficiently and it might come loose when the product is in use. Lack of focus can lead to wrong calculations, misinterpretations and other errors which can have administrative consequences.

Encourage your employees to take more breaks and move away from their workstation to clear their minds and stretch. You can add lounge chairs in your office space, and preferably outside so they can sprawl and relax for a bit. Also, yoga mats are excellent to stretch the musculoskeletal system and relieve some tension from prolonged sitting and standing. All this will bring a higher quality of work, raise morale and create a positive work environment with satisfactory results.

Prevent certain health problems

Standing or sitting too long can lead to serious health problems that may develop over time and prevent employees from performing their tasks efficiently. Moreover, it can lead to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, back pain and other problems which may need medical attention in the end. This will cause employees to miss work due to discomfort, pain or other debilitating factors.

The most common injuries come from repetitive and awkward positions called musculoskeletal disorder or MSD. Conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, lower back injuries and Tennis Elbow affect employee motivation and productivity costing a company financially. One of the ways to prevent this is through ergonomic furniture and measures like reminding employees to take breaks.

Also, hiring a masseur could be beneficial to relieve the tension from muscles, as well as a yoga instructor to show employees how to breathe and stretch properly. Onsite massage is known to de-stress the body and help clear the mind. On the other hand, massage chairs may also be a nice touch and help your employees feel more invigorated and ready to tackle any task.

Final thoughts

Every workplace should take care of its employees. Besides creating humane conditions to work, employees should feel comfortable and safe while doing their jobs. Ergonomic design is intended to take care of the aspects of workplace safety that are easily overlooked like posture and repetitiveness of actions. With proper ergonomic safety measures in place, both employer and employees will benefit through increased quality of products and performance.

Join the conversation!