The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that 7 million Australians suffer from musculoskeletal injuries every year, contributing 12% to Australia’s total disease and injury burden. Musculoskeletal injuries are strongly, positively correlated with work-related physical hazards. So what can you – a stakeholder in your workplace – do to reduce workplace-related damage? You can start by incorporating ergonomics in your workstation.
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics involves designing workplaces to fit the people who use them to minimize the risk of injury. Additionally, workspace paraphernalia, such as ergonomic chairs and tables, is crucial in setting up an area to promote maximum efficiency. Safe Work Australia reported that over 107,300 workers were absent for more than a week and 62,000 for less than a week because of workplace-related injuries in just a year. Thus, well-designed workspaces can reduce absence and improve productivity.
Read on to know about three essential design principles of an ergonomic workspace and how they can minimize risk and maximize efficiency.
Working Reach Envelope and productivity:
Humans have a sphere of space around them, where they can comfortably reach out for and perform tasks on objects. The working reach envelope covers the area a worker can reach with minimum deviation from a neutral arm position. Studies have shown that even minute changes of 10 cm can bring about a 7% improvement in productivity and a considerable reduction in labor time and costs. A typical design rule is to set a working reach envelope with the most petite worker in mind so that all workers have little or no difficulty performing their tasks. Read more about 7 BENEFITS OF ERGONOMIC CHAIRS YOU CAN NOT DENY.
Mechanical Contact Stress and productivity:
Employees constantly come in contact with hard surfaces while performing their tasks. It puts their body parts at high risk of Mechanical contact stress. Specific organs of an employee’s body come under increasing pressure resulting in tissue compression, blood vessels constriction, nerve damage, or tendon rupture. To avoid the risk of contact stress, you can install soft-edge workstations, allow for flexible table heights, and encourage workers to change their positions often during the day. Ignorance of this factor can increase the chance of risk of injury by nearly 9%. Frankly, it is a low-hanging fruit that you can implement with a set of new furniture, and thus, should not be dismissed.
Seat Reference Point and Productivity:
Over 4million Australians suffer from a chronic back problem. It results in a three-fold decrease in productivity in terms of hours of focused work, absence from work, and stamina to perform physical tasks. Many back-ache sufferers are white-collar workers who spend most of the day sitting at their desks. You can reduce the risk to your employees in this category by installing ergonomic chair in your office. The seat reference point (the intersection of a chair’s backrest and seat) must provide good lumbar support while allowing the worker’s feet to rest flat on the floor. Good ergonomic seating allows for maximum adjustability to accommodate workers of all sizes and heights.
Workers are constantly at risk of musculoskeletal injury at the workplace. An injury can take up to 3 weeks to heal in the worst case. Besides, workplace injuries must be compensated by the employer. The costs of bad ergonomic practices are too high to put aside. Perform ergonomic evaluation at your workplace to identify the risks and take necessary actions to minimize them. You can reduce the rate of injuries and increase individual and collective productivity while keeping your employees comfortable and happy.