3 proven benefits of ergonomic changes in the workplace
The workplace has a greater impact on your health than you may think. In addition to stress, anxiety, and the mental illnesses that are rampant in the office, there are also several physical ailments that can affect you. The workplace has been blamed for many illnesses including frequent colds from workplace germs, heart disease as a result of workplace stress, lack of sleep due to stress, eye strain from your computer and many others.
Perhaps the most prominent health problem associated with work is back and neck pain. According to studies featured on the Huffington Post, sitting for too long can actually disrupt metabolic function and contribute to extreme back and neck pain, which in some cases can be debilitating for the rest of your life.
Although there are ways to break up the monotony, it is almost impossible to avoid sitting for long periods of time at work. One of the best solutions involves incorporating ergonomics into the workplace. Ergonomics is defined as adaptations to the atmosphere, furniture and overall design of the workplace in order to make employees feel more comfortable and increase productivity. Here are some of the ways that including ergonomics in the workplace can significantly improve employee health.
1. Ergonomic furniture eases back pain
Since back and neck pain as a result of poor office chairs and desks is such a prominent factor in employee health, it makes sense to start by purchasing more ergonomic furniture. There is no need to break the bank, but the furniture should be high quality and shaped to meet the needs of your employees. Chairs should have comfortable cushions, arm rests, adjustable seat heights and a shape that supports the lumbar curve in the spine. Overall, the chair should conform to match the natural curve of the spine instead of causing the spine to curve in a way that could cause permanent damage.
Desks should also be set up, so the keyboard is at elbow height when the employee is sitting. Many desks come with a keyboard slide out to go over the worker’s lap. If the keyboard is set at an improper height or at an awkward distance from the user, then it can create strain on the upper back that causes neck and shoulder pain and possibly headaches. The right furniture can eliminate the problem by giving the employee an ergonomic place to rest.
2. Comfortable employees produce more productive, quality work
Old business practices operated under the belief that uncomfortable employees would work harder and faster than comfortable ones. Although it is true that a room that is too warm, and chairs that are too comfortable can make employees sleepy, a comfortable atmosphere can actually increase their productivity and quality of work. An atmosphere that allows for good posture, fewer motions, better reach and less exertion actually makes a work station more efficient.
It also allows employees to put more energy into delivering quality work. People can be pessimistic when they are uncomfortable. However, instead of dwelling on the discomfort and frustration they feel from a poorly designed workspace, a comfortable environment will help employees focus on how to deliver the best possible product.
3. Ergonomics improves safety and decreases liability
Employee safety has more significance for a company than many people realize. In addition to the fact that your workers have a human right to feel secure, it is important in increasing employee retention, improving productivity and adding clout to the company name. It is also important for protecting the company for liability reasons. It is harder for a disgruntled employee to find probable cause to sue the company or ask for workers compensation when the office is safe and secure.
Ergonomic offices show employees that safety is a core value of the company. As businesses make their workplace atmospheres more comfortable and safe, they will be able to foster a safe and healthy culture for their employees.