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Signs You Need to Carry Out an Ergonomic Assessment

17 August 2023

In very simple terms, ergonomics simply looks at how people behave in their work environment. Environment can be anything – from the office layout and lighting, to mental environment re: the way people behave around them, and even their emotional interactions with the workplace.

It sounds like making your workplace a safe space to be in is easy, but thousands of injuries per year are attributed to the workplace being ergonomically unsound. In fact, poor ergonomic practices can result in many serious and chronic conditions, like musculoskeletal disorders, nerve compression problems and mental health concerns.

The good news is that there are ways to prevent these problems – but for that you need to incorporate regular ergonomic assessments into your workplace strategy. The injuries can be reduced this way, but it goes much further than that.

Good workplace ergonomics are able to help you with improving engagement and productivity and lowering negative sentiments about the workplace. To carry out an assessment about your workplace, you need to watch out for some signs that it is time to do so in the first place.

Here are some signs you need to carry out an ergonomic assessment.

How To Know You Need an Ergonomic Evaluation

Employee Injuries

Of course, the best way to figure out that something is wrong with workplace ergonomics is to keep an eye out for injuries. Ergonomics is meant to protect workers from harm by taking into consideration how their body works and then making the environment they work in cater to it.

When the environment does not cater to the body, and works the other way around, it often leads to injuries and problems. While you can't realistically eliminate all risk of injuries, you can reduce it to a fairly large extent.

If you notice that the rate of injuries is much higher than it should be, then there could be a problem. This is especially true if the injuries have common causes or are similar in nature. For example, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines etc. are frequently seen in office workers and are actually a sign of poor workplace ergonomics.

If you notice these problems in your employees, it may be time to bring in a professional who can determine whether you need to make any changes and what they are.

Repetitive Motion

If you notice that your employees have to do a lot of repetitive tasks, it may be a sign that a problem is lurking in the shadows. When employees have a lot of repetitive tasks on their place, they are actually at a much higher risk of injury than others.

In fact, repetitive motion can lead to musculoskeletal disorders or repetitive strain injuries, which can be very painful and can even be long-term. Not only does this cause immediate problems, but also costs you quite a lot in terms of productivity and opportunity in the long run.

In fact, RSIs and MSDs are particularly dangerous because unlike other injuries, they don't happen at once. They are slow and build up very gradually, because the recovery period for the fatigued soft tissue gets smaller and smaller.

This means that you may seem to be fine one day, and then realize you are injured the very next – but this problem would have been growing for quite a long time, and you simply didn't realize it.

To prevent it from happening in the first place, the best way is to keep an eye out for how much repetitive work your employees are tasked with and how long they spend doing these tasks. If you notice that there are a lot of repetitive motions, ergonomic injuries may be a lot more likely to happen, and much quicker than you'd think.

Declining Productivity

When your environment is not catered to your body, you are most likely going to end up feeling tired and can't get your work done as well as you would otherwise. Naturally, this means that your productivity will also start going down.

As an example, if your desk is uncomfortable and you have to sit there for eight hours a day, it's understandable that you wouldn't be able to work at your full potential, because you'd constantly be distracted by your discomfort.

Meanwhile, if you have a comfortable desk like the FlexiSpot Comhar Pro Standing Desk that allows you to customize your workspace, you're bound to be able to work much better.

Overexerting bodies will also make you more fatigued, which causes productivity levels to decline. Keeping an eye out for this is another way of making sure your workplace ergonomics are up to the mark.

Of course, productivity and ergonomics aren't always connected one-to-one – there may be other reasons why productivity is declining, which is why besides keeping an eye out, you should also try and gauge how employees feel.

By holding workplace surveys or asking employees specific questions about how they feel about their workplace, you can determine whether it's the workspace that's making their productivity go down or if there is another reason.

If your employees seem to attribute the lack of productivity to their workspace, something may be wrong, and it may be time for an ergonomic assessment.

Safety First Culture

Safety-first culture is a necessity in any organization. In fact, it could also be a major sign that your workplace is not ergonomically sound. Safety should, in fact, be the top priority – for both, employees and employers.

Employers should make an effort to train their employees and make sure they understand how to keep themselves safe in the workplace, and employees should make an effort to maximize their own safety as well.

When safety is not made the top priority, injuries are usually occurring at a rapid rate, and may even be very noticeable. A lacking safety culture can usually be addressed without the need for an ergonomic assessment. Training can be provided and employees can be given rewards for maintaining safe workplace practices.

In fact, when safety is emphasized, employees tend to work better as well, since they feel that they are being cared for and that their safety and wellbeing is of concern to their employers. As such, they feel more motivated to give back to the organization.

However, sometimes, no matter how much training is provided, the environment itself may not be up to standard. In such cases, an ergonomic evaluation should be carried out to make sure things are in place and that employee health is not being put at risk.

Declining Engagement

Engagement from employees is a necessary part of any business. In fact, human resources departments consider employee engagement to be one of the major issues of any business. Keeping employees engaged and satisfied with their work are one of the biggest difficulties for corporations, and many employees lost to other companies are often because of engagement concerns.

In fact, when it comes to engagement, some employees are much more likely to accept an engaging job over one that pays well. This is because they feel satisfied in the work they are doing and are thus able to feel more productive about it. In fact, engagement is often also linked to mental health concerns.

When employees feel engaged with their work, they are less likely to feel stress, depression, anxiety and other such common mental health problems that come with the workplace.

In fact, mental health trouble is also related to workplace ergonomics. This may be physical, in the sense that if the workplace is physically exhausting, employees may get stressed out a lot easier than if it were a more relaxing place to be in. It could also be emotional or cognitive, in that the workload is too high, or they are unable to get along with their colleagues.

Whatever the reason, declining employee engagement is often a sign that something is wrong with the workplace. The best way to go about this is to ask employees questions about the workplace itself. Ideally, this is kept anonymous so they feel more at ease explaining their concerns.

If the feedback is less than ideal, it may be time to carry out an ergonomic evaluation. In fact, when it comes to feedback on engagement, even if you consider the results to be good it's better to go ahead with the assessment anyway, since employees are much more likely to sugarcoat their responses.

Improving the workplace can show significant changes in how engaged employees are, and how comfortable they feel in the workplace. This will also change how well they are able to contribute towards the company.

Bad ergonomics practices costs companies billions of dollars in costs every year, but it is a very easy fix to make. By keeping a more vigilant eye on how things are going, you can determine the right time to carry out an ergonomic assessment. This way, you can nip the problem in the bud and keep it from developing any further.