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5 Common Workplace Ergonomic Mistakes

09 October 2023

Most people whose job requires them to sit in front of computer screens for long hours every day complain about pain in different parts of their body, especially in the lower back, shoulders, and neck. Work-related health problems are extremely common, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't take them seriously. Just because not many people are doing anything about it doesn't mean you shouldn't, either.

You may be experiencing pain in the lower back, shoulders, and neck, and headaches and may think it's just from sitting for long hours at work and resting through the night will make you feel better. While having a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed does reduce the pain, it doesn't do much to eliminate the root cause. The next day, you'll come back home experiencing the same pain.

The pain and discomfort you experience aren't because you've been spending too long sitting and working at work but because you've been sitting in an incorrect posture. And that's what puts you at risk of serious health problems. The pain and discomfort are signs that your body is at a high risk of developing long-term health conditions that may affect your overall well-being, productivity, efficiency, and even your personal life.

You may not realize it, but the pain and discomfort you're experiencing at work might be because of ergonomic mistakes you're making without knowing. If you could identify your mistakes and work on correcting your workplace practices, you can prevent any forms of work-related health conditions from developing.

This blog post will highlight the most common workplace ergonomic mistakes that may affect your health, morale, and mood at work and also shed light on some ways you can improve workplace ergonomics.

Common Workplace Ergonomic Mistakes That You May be Making

Ever since the concept of remote working became common, an increasing number of people have reported work-related health problems like a constant pain in the back, neck, and shoulders, increased stress and anxiety, and poor work morale. This is because people who work from their homes don't have the necessary equipment and facilities to work comfortably, affecting their health, mood, and morale. Even people working in offices complain about these problems. So, what is it that's affecting people working from home and even those working at physical offices where the employees have proper workstations that most remote employees don't?

The answer to this question is that people working remotely and those working at physical offices are all making common mistakes affecting them.

Let's look at what these common mistakes are:

1. Using the Wrong Chairs

Most individuals, both remote and those working at physical offices, don't pay much attention to the chairs they use. Most offices are equipped with regular office chairs. Most remote employees use whichever chair's available at home. What you don't know yet is that it might be the chair that you're using that is causing the pain and discomfort.

A regular chair can't be adjusted to suit individual comfort needs. These chairs don't provide adequate support to the body, putting strain on different parts of the body, especially in the lower back, neck, and shoulder muscles. Sitting on an uncomfortable chair, therefore, can result in muscle fatigue. You'll feel tired and exhausted sooner. Not to mention the body ache that'll follow.

Another problem with using a regular chair at work or in your home office is the incorrect positioning of your legs and feet. If the chair isn't the right height for you, your feet will dangle in the air (in case the chair's too high for you), or you'll have to sit with your thighs at an awkward angle (in case the chair's too low for you). This can put additional stress on your legs and lower back and increase the likelihood of pain in the back and legs.

2. Choosing Aesthetic Workstations

Your aesthetic workstation may also be why you feel uncomfortable at work. Many employers spend a lot of money to make their workplaces look attractive and modern. To make their workplaces stand out, they often overlook the importance of functional workstations. Even remote employees invest in work desks that look good in their rooms. This is another reason why you don't feel comfortable at work and often end up experiencing pain in different parts of your body.

Not all workstations are suitable for you, no matter how aesthetically appealing they may be. If your workstation isn't the right height and size for you, be prepared to experience work-related health problems. If your workstation is too high or too low for you, you'll have to sit in an awkward posture for long hours, which can put you at a high risk of posture-related musculoskeletal disorders. If the workstation isn't the right size, it'll look cluttered, and a cluttered workstation can trigger anxiety and stress. You may even feel frustrated without understanding why!

3. Incorrect Monitor Placement

How often do you adjust the placement of your monitor to ensure it's at the right height, distance, and angle for you? The incorrect placement of the computer monitor is one of the most common workplace ergonomic mistakes that you may be making without knowing.

When your monitor isn't placed at the right height, you've to bend or lift your head to see the screen correctly. Raising the neck when the monitor is placed too high can strain the neck, and you may end up with a stiff neck. If the monitor is too low, you'll have to bend your head forward, which puts a load on the shoulder muscles. The incorrect angle of the computer monitor also makes you tilt your head in incorrect positions. As far as the distance is concerned, if a monitor is placed too close, the glare from the computer screen will affect the eyes. If the monitor is placed too far, the eyes will get strained due to excessive pressure trying to read what's written on the screen. This can result in headaches, migraines, and even blurred vision.

4. Odd Position of Elbows and Hands When Typing

Another common workplace ergonomic mistake most people make is the odd positioning of the elbows and hands when typing. This is usually the case when the keyboard is placed at an incorrect height, and there's no support for the elbows. To type, the user has to lift their elbows and position their hands awkwardly. This results in the users experiencing pain in their shoulders, and this also puts them at a high risk of work-related health conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which can make typing a painful ordeal!

5. Working in Poor Lighting

Most people assume that lighting doesn't matter much, but you'll be surprised to know that working in poor lighting conditions can strain your eyes and even affect your mood. You'll automatically feel gloomy and dull if the workplace is dimly lit. If the workplace is too bright, it'll cause eye strain and will cause headaches. These conditions will affect your productivity, efficiency, and mood at work!

Correcting Workplace Ergonomic Mistakes

Correcting workplace ergonomic mistakes isn't too difficult if you've already identified them. Knowing what mistakes are causing what problems is actually half work done towards an ergonomic-friendly workplace.

Below are some tips that’ll help you correct workplace ergonomic mistakes and make your workplace a safe and healthy place!

Invest in Ergonomic Office Furniture

You already know how the wrong office chair and work desk can affect you and put you at a high risk of posture-related musculoskeletal disorders. You can prevent this with the use of an ergonomic office chair and desk.

An ergonomic office chair like the Standard Office Chair (C5) allows you to adjust the height of your chair so that your feet are placed flat on the floor and aren't dangling in the air. An ergonomic office chair also has a flexible backrest to provide superior back support and armrests to support the elbows while you type. You can also adjust the seat depth to ensure the edge of the seat isn't rubbing against the back of your knees.

An ergonomic workstation also comes with an adjustable height feature that allows the users to adjust the height of their work desk so that they don't have to sit in an incorrect posture for long hours.

Ergonomic furniture reduces the risk of posture-related musculoskeletal disorders and also reduces the incidence of back, neck, and shoulder pain, thereby ensuring enhanced comfort, safety, and productivity at work.

Install Adjustable Monitor Mount

An adjustable monitor mount enables you to adjust the monitor's height, distance, and angle to ensure you don't have to position your head at awkward angles while working. It also minimizes eye strain by ensuring the monitor is at the right distance from the user.

Position the Keyboard and Mouse Correctly

Make sure your keyboard and mouse are placed at the same height. Both of these workplace equipment should be placed together at a suitable height so that you don't have to lift your elbows or bend your wrists at incorrect angles. This reduces the risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome significantly and makes typing comfortable for you. Replacing your keyboard and mouse with ergonomic options will offer even better benefits!

Improve Workplace Lighting

The lighting in your workplace shouldn't be too bright or too dim. There should be enough overhead lights installed to light up the workplace just right. Having large windows to allow natural light into your office during the day can also make a huge difference. You can also place task lamps on the work desk to provide additional light when needed, like reading documents with small font sizes.

Final Word

Improving workplace ergonomics isn't difficult today when there are plenty of ergonomic solutions available. The journey toward designing an ergonomic workplace starts with identifying the ergonomic mistakes that you've been making. And once you're past that stage, you'll know what exactly you need to do!