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Motion Control Engineering & Manufacturing Resources

Office Ergonomics: How to Address and Avoid Issues in the Workspace

Office Ergonomics: How to Address and Avoid Issues in the Workspace

Posted by Weber Knapp on Jun 27, 2022 3:20:28 PM

office ergonomics

Ergonomics is a recognized factor in employee health, productivity and workplace safety. Facilities that do not budget for and pay attention to ergonomics see employees with repetitive stress injuries, distracted from their work, and less than thrilled to be there.

This all hurts the bottom line. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the various areas where ergonomic accessories can be useful. 

The US Bureau of Labor has shared that more than 55% of ER visits in 2021 were a result of an event at work. There were over 56,000 cases of injury or illness due to a fall on the same level, 54,000 cases of someone struck by an object at work, and 47,000 cases of musculoskeletal disorders - known as ergonomic injuries.

This is where office ergonomics plays a key role in helping to reduce your employees’ injuries. 

The statistics also show that over 215,000 cases of musculoskeletal disorders occurred that were not treated through a visit to the ER. Musculoskeletal disorders are caused by repetitive motion or microtasks that are done over and over on a daily basis. These can include: 

  1. Carpal tunnel syndrome
  2. Rotator cuff issues
  3. Sciatica
  4. Other lower back pain
  5. Eyestrain
  6. Neck Strain

Another potential concern for employees handling repetitive tasks is injury from operating a heavy pass-through gate on a regular basis.

This means wait staff, bussers, and cooks are at risk for this type of repetitive injury. Also, hospital staff who have to travel through gated-off areas, such as employee-only rooms, are at risk of this type of injury. 

Bad Ergonomics: Identifying Potential Issues with your Workspace

Every company has staff that are responsible for certain tasks on a regular basis. Hopefully, that need is recognized and those employees have the best tools available to help them avoid repetitive stress injuries. 

If you aren’t sure about this, there are different resources available to help you determine the areas of concern. In order to know where ergonomic issues are within your office, consider the following questions: 

  • Is each workstation adjusted according to the height of the employee who uses it?
  • In the case of workstations that employees share, is adjustment easy to accomplish?
  • What are the most strenuous activities that my employees perform regularly?
  • What repetitive tasks have to be completed? 
  • Are my employees encouraged to use proper posture with the tools they have at their workstations?
  • What concerns do employees have when we discuss employee satisfaction?
  • When was the last time I asked my employees what they needed to get the job done?

Planning to Reduce Ergonomic Issues to Benefit Employees

In order to make sure employees are making the most of an ergonomic setup, it is a good idea to help them understand the importance of this equipment and the ergonomic focus in the workplace. 

Employees need to be advised that properly applied ergonomics not only support mission readiness, but they also improve health and safety through the reduction of risk factors for work-related injuries and disorders.

Staff members tend to be more comfortable, have higher morale and productivity rates, and tend to be more satisfied with their job when the proper ergonomic environment is created for their workspace. 

Considering the above, it only makes sense that workers’ compensation and employee turnover both decrease when employers pay close attention to office ergonomics.

Another aspect of ergonomics that is sometimes overlooked during efforts to improve workplace comfort and morale is the proper training to see issues before they cause injury. 

There are a variety of ways to incorporate training for employees, and like this training available through ergo-plus.com, many training opportunities are free or low-cost. 

How to Address/Reduce Workplace Occurrences of Bad Office Ergonomics

Financing a renovation to your office space can seem like a big hit to the bottom line. However, when you start considering the benefits of setting a budget that allows for adjustable furniture and new accessories, it is wise to take several points into account. 

The first is the reduction in production errors and scrap rates: a 67% reduction can occur for your business. Meanwhile, the payback period for investment in ergonomics is 8.4 months on average.  

Another statistic to consider is a 65% decrease in injuries, which means less time off for employees and less money spent on workers’ compensation. Meanwhile, the investment could lead to a 25% increase in overall productivity. All of this will add up considerably.

Office floor space is not a resource that can be increased without significant investment. Therefore, you can address such an issue in a more cost-effective way by looking into ways to open up the workspace without adding to the square footage.

Ergonomic products like retractable keyboard arms and trays, sit-to-stand desks, and monitor arms are a good way to invest in maximizing the workspace.

Retractable trays not only open up areas of the desk that are normally used for the keyboard and mouse, but they also allow for adjustment of these accessories for your employees.

office ergonomicsSit-to-stand desks encourage your employees to move and change positions - even if they can’t walk away from their desks. This type of office equipment helps reduce the risk of many musculoskeletal disorders, simply with the switch from sitting to standing.

A good range for a height-adjustable desk, one that fits the height range of most Americans, is 22” to 46.5.” It is also important to have a load-bearing capacity that meets the needs of the workplace and won’t allow damage to the lift mechanism. 

Monitor arms come in handy when attempting to address neck strain or eyestrain concerns, and they also provide a way to move multiple monitors as a single unit. Weber Knapp offers a variety of products in their ergonomics catalog to help personalize an employee’s workspace and maximize efficiency.

The products also have the ability to note a setting and speed up adjustments for employees who share a workspace.  

You should consider the duration of use, position changes, and potential negative effects of the current station setup when budgeting for office ergonomics.

In order to maximize the space for your staff, it’s a good idea to consider the right combination of ideas to make the workspace feel natural to the worker who uses it. 

Avoiding Future Office Ergonomic Issues

Your investment in ergonomics is key to reducing production errors and increasing overall productivity. However, keep in mind that this investment also shows the staff that your company cares. 

office ergonomicsIn an era where individuals are resigning to move on to a company that values them, an investment in ergonomics and the impression you listen to their concerns can lead to increased engagement and motivation among the staff. 

It can also be a great way to open communication or improve on communication channels that are already in place.

Show that you understand the team dynamics and are looking for the best way to support that dynamic. This goes a long way toward improving employee satisfaction at your company and also helps decrease employee turnover. 

Implement Changes Today to Address Office Ergonomics Concerns

EHS Today states that lower back pain is the leading cause of years lived with disability, or YLD, on a global scale from 1990 to 2015.

Meanwhile, it is the second-greatest cause of disability throughout the world and the sixth greatest global concern, a metric of population health, behind HIV/AIDs. Malaria comes in seventh on that list. 

In the US, lower back pain and upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders top the list when it comes to occupational injuries and illnesses.

According to EHS Today, they are nearly ⅓ of all occupational injuries in the US, incurring a median of nine days of absence from work. Meanwhile, in Canada, these injuries account for half of all occupational injuries. In Europe, they total two-fifths, or 39%, of the occupational injuries reported. 

All this is to say, office ergonomics are not something to ignore in the hopes that these issues will fix themselves. Reach out to a Weber Knapp expert today and get started addressing these concerns in your facility.

Get The Free Ergonomic Equipment Integration Checklist Here


Topics: Ergonomics, Motion Control, Design, office equipment