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Interesting Facts About Workplace Ergonomics

12 September 2023

Ergonomics is more than just a fancy word about how the workplace works, it is a necessary factor to consider when making the workplace suitable and safe for employees. Businesses shouldn't just focus on what work is done and how much, but also who is doing the work.

Your employees are your most valuable asset, and their safety should be of utmost importance. That's why ergonomics is necessary - to protect your employees and make sure they remain safe.

Here are some interesting facts about workplace ergonomics that you should know.

Facts About Ergonomics

Ergonomics Can Prevent MSIs

Greater exposure towards things comes with being at a greater risk of a negative outcome. This is true solely because of the proportion of times a negative outcome can be expected.

This is also greatly applicable when it comes to the workplace and ergonomics, especially for heavy computer users. The risk of injury in terms of the workplace usually lies in things like repetitive action and awkward body positioning.

Without proper ergonomic practices in place to prevent these injuries, the chances of them happening are understandably much greater. Once you recognize and evaluate the risks of the workplace, you can understand what kind of injuries they can cause and how.

In most cases, these are musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs), and take some time to become apparent. Usually, they will start off as an annoyance that gets brushed off as something that will resolve itself, and as they remain untreated, will become worse until it grows into a full-fledged problem.

With proper ergonomic practices in place to make sure posture and positioning are correct, you can prevent such MSIs in the workplace and keep your employees safe. A major part of this is to make sure that they are using appropriate ergonomic furniture, such as FlexiSpot's Ergonomic Office Chair, or a sit-stand desk like FlexiSpot's Comhar All-in-One Standing Desk which allows employees more flexibility and comfort, as well as better posture.

The Most Common Injuries are Ergonomic Injuries

What does this mean? Ergonomic injuries are those that are caused by problems with ergonomics - that is, musculoskeletal injuries, as mentioned earlier. Stats show that about 40% of all injuries in the workplace are reported to be MSIs, and this is true for all demographics all around the world.

In fact, of this 40%, about 15% of all workplace injuries happen to be carpal tunnel syndrome. This could be because of the kind of work expected of workers at any kind of workplace. Carpal tunnel syndrome is most often caused by repetitive actions, such as typing or using a mouse.

In an office space, this is understandable since a lot of desk jobs involve working at the computer for long stretches of time.

Carpal tunnel syndrome also results in a lot of employees needing time off from work. Because carpal tunnel syndrome requires rest and stress prevention, many people end up taking about a month or so off from work to recover from the injury.

The best way to avoid all of these problems is to prevent the injury in the first place. Ergonomic injuries are easier to prevent than they are to treat, and aren’t all that difficult to prevent either. All you have to do is make sure that your posture is correct and neutral and that you aren't putting excess pressure on yourself in any way.

By taking care of ergonomics, you could be avoiding up to 40% of injuries, as well as all the monetary and opportunity costs associated with them.

Ergonomics is Linked to Productivity

Did you know that ergonomics is directly linked to productivity? In fact, stats show that if you improve the ergonomics of your workplace, you could be increasing productivity by about 11%. This is because ergonomics is linked to your health and affects your ability to work effectively.

Of course, if you are in pain or are tired out from working, your productivity levels would be lower than otherwise. On the other hand, if you are sitting comfortably and protected from bodily aches and pains, the chances of you being able to focus on your work are higher.

Without all the pains distracting you from your work and tiring you out, you'd be able to focus on your work a lot better and thus increase your output as well.

Training is Necessary

When trying to implement ergonomics in the workplace, you may assume that it works out if you introduce ergonomic changes and expect employees to care for themselves. While making those changes is important, you also have to provide your employees with training around ergonomics.

You might assume that employees know what's good for them, but a lot of times this is not true. What's most comfortable for your body may not always be what’s good for it, particularly if your posture is already bad.

Bad posture results in worse posture, so the most natural position for someone with bad posture is not actually a good position to hold. To keep employees from hurting themselves further, you'd need to provide training around what constitutes good posture and how employees should be sitting to prevent injuries.

However, simply training them isn't enough because unless they are making sure to implement what they are trained for in their daily routine, they will remain at risk.

Ergonomic training should, therefore, come with a program or system where it is being implemented seriously - ideally with rewards and consequences attached. Monthly surprise audits are also a good idea to make sure that employees are taking care of themselves.

Not only does this system ensure that your employees remain safe, but it can also help make them understand that their workplace values them and their safety. As a result, they are more likely to feel motivated to follow through and be more productive as well.

Listening to Employees

Ergonomics isn't just about developing programs and bringing in new furniture, it's also about listening to employees' individual concerns. Ergonomics is about the body and how it interacts with the environment it is in, but everyone's body is different. Height, body type, stature, weight - all of these things affect how the body interacts with the environment, which means that what's good for one person may not be good for everyone.

That's why it's also important to listen to your employees and hear out any concerns they may have to make sure that your ergonomic efforts are going in the right direction. Something that works for someone may not necessarily work for someone else, and hearing this out from the affected parties can help resolve problems before they become bigger.

Hearing out and resolving problems for employees also ties in with the aspect of making employees feel cared for. Once again, if you make them feel that their safety and well being is valued, they are a lot more likely to feel motivated to work, if only because they appreciate the concern.

Listening to employees will also help you understand where problems tend to lie so you can prevent them in the future. In fact, while trying to resolve one thing, you may even find other problems that haven't been brought up and be able to resolve those as well.

Taking Breaks is Part of Ergonomics

Ergonomics is about the way our bodies interact with the environment - and that includes the length of time it spends in that interaction as well! As mentioned earlier, when you get more exposure, the risk of facing the negative effects also becomes greater.

In that sense, the more time you spend working, no matter how great your workplace ergonomics are, you'd be at risk of some of the downsides - from musculoskeletal injuries to lower productivity levels.

Taking breaks is necessary because it helps you get away from that confined space of your workstation for a while. Put your work aside and take some time to relax your aching muscles and help your body calm down. Taking your mind off work for a bit also helps you get rid of all the stress and tension and come back to it with a fresh mind.

Most people assume breaks are a way to get away from work, but breaks are actually necessary for you to be able to work productively. The best way to incorporate breaks into your routine is to take microbreaks after every task. Microbreaks are about two to five minutes long, so they don't affect your work, and also give you the benefits of having taken the break to begin with.

Microbreaks after every 30 to 60 minutes is a good way to disperse them through the day, and you'd find that using these breaks to stand up and do some stretches does wonders - not just for your health, but also for your productivity and output.

As a whole, ergonomics has been greatly reduced to just ergonomic furniture, but there are a lot of things to consider and implement if you want to reap the benefits of ergonomics.