Ergonomics is one of those concepts that everybody knows is important, but few people know how to properly implement. What makes ergonomics so difficult to understand is the fact that it covers virtually every movement that your employees make while they are at work. From typing on their computers to lifting heavy items in the warehouse, there are ergonomic practices that can be applied to every aspect of your business.
With such a huge span of applications, how can you begin to implement proper ergonomics in your business? Try starting with these 6 things, which can all be implemented in your office within a week.
Do Your Research
The exact ergonomic needs of your office will depend on many factors, including the way your workstations are arranged and the type of work your employees perform. It’s important to do a little research and see what kinds of best practices would apply to your business. OSHA has a page dedicated solely to ergonomics, with many excellent resources you can use to plan for greater adjustments down the line.
Identify Risk Factors
Once you’ve done your research, you can walk through your office and observe your employees working so that you can identify risk factors in the workplace. Common risks to look out for include:
- Tasks requiring excessive force
- Tasks requiring repetitive movements
- Awkward working positions
- Work requiring prolonged static positions
- Quick, sudden movements
- Contact pressure or stress (e.g., wrists resting against the edge of the desk while typing)
Make notes of any potential risk factors you’ve found and how you think they can be corrected. While some of the issues you find could be fixed quickly and easily, others will take longer, so be patient and address the issues one at a time. We’ll offer a few of the simple solutions you might need to implement later in this article.
Your employees know their jobs better than you do. They know the movements and positions that cause discomfort. They know if the way their workstation is arranged in a way that causes back and neck pain. So talk to them this week, and find out what problems they might be having in relation to ergonomics.
You should also educate them about basic ergonomics, so that they can take ownership of their work stations and arrange them in ergonomically-friendly ways. When they know how their legs should be positioned when they sit, how their computer screens should be adjusted, and where their office supplies should be located for easy access, they can make the necessary adjustments themselves.
You can also educate them about the way they perform certain tasks, like lifting and moving objects, to help avoid serious injuries. When you give your employees the education they need to work properly and safely, they can take ownership of their work immediately, protecting themselves and minimizing the risk of injury.
Rearrange Storage Rooms
Now that you’ve educated yourself and your employees, you’re ready to start making simple ergonomic adjustments around the office. One of the first ones you can try is rearranging your storage rooms. Heavier items should be stored at a height close to a person’s center mass. This is the safest location, because it prevents people from trying to lift heavy items over their heads, as well as removing the need to bend and lift heavy items.
Minimize Need for Lifting
In addition to rearranging store rooms, you can minimize the need for lifting in your warehouses as well this week. All it takes is the purchasing of proper equipment. Depending on your business and the way your warehouse is arranged, equipment may include a forklift, dolly, conveyor belt, or a simple rolling cart. If there are any places throughout your business where your employees are lifting items heavier than 40 pounds, you should offer equipment to assist and minimize risks of injury.
Make All Furniture Adjustable
In order for your employees to have a truly ergonomic workstation, it is essential that they be able to adjust and modify their furniture in order to fit their specific needs. Every person’s body is different, which means there is no ideal desk height, no perfect chair, and no one-size-fits-all solution for office furniture.
One of the first ergonomic adjustments you need to make in your office is to give your employees the ability to work as comfortably and safely as possible at their desks, as well as in conference rooms and anywhere else that work may take place. This week, identify the furniture in your office that is not fully adjustable, and replace it with modern furniture that can customize to your employees’ needs.
This should include comfortable office chairs that offer back support and hundreds of different adjustment combinations, desks that allow workers to choose whether to sit or stand while they perform their tasks, and adjustable conference room tables that allow meeting attendees to sit or stand comfortably during meetings. By providing your workers with these options, you make it not only possible, but extremely easy for them to work in ergonomic positions throughout the day.
If you follow these suggestions, by the end of the week, you and your employees will be armed with knowledge about how to work more ergonomically, and you will have begun to make the necessary adjustments to a more ergonomically-friendly work environment. These essential changes will give you healthier, more productive employees while minimizing the risk for injury and the potential for a liability or workers’ comp claim. In the end, ergonomics are a win-win situation for everyone.
If you’re ready to start making ergonomic changes in your office, contact Office XYZ to see how our office solutions can help.