Ergonomics, or the study of how people interact with their work environment, aims to eliminate injuries caused by repetitive motion. Carpal tunnel, tendonitis, sprains and strains are just a few of the ailments that may come from poor posture, repeated movements, and the overuse of muscles and tendons. Some injuries can be so severe that people suffering from them are unable to work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that one-third of “days-away-from-work cases” are caused by ergonomic-related injuries. And with ergonomic-related injuries, the time spent away from work is greater than from other types of injuries (11 days versus eight days).
Keep reading for simple tips you can share with your employees to help keep them in good form, comfortable and safe from injury. We’ll even offer a few ideas for ergonomic gifts.
4 ways to improve ergonomics at work
- Support good posture: Good posture ensures vertebrae and discs are free of unnecessary pressure. It also helps keep neck and back pain at bay. An adjustable chair with lumbar support, armrests and a footrest can help keep employees in good form. In addition to proper seating, encourage them to practice these tricks at work: Keep posture in check by aligning the ears with the shoulders. Draw the shoulder blades back every so often to avoid rounded shoulders. And sit with feet planted firmly on the ground—no crossing those legs! Imprint these tips on a banner stylus pen or paper mousepad as a daily reminder to maintain proper posture.
- Minimize reaching: Keep frequently used objects, like the phone, papers and writing utensils, close at hand. The keyboard and mouse should be placed within easy reach and on the same surface. Reduce repetitive strain from the mouse by alternating hands and by using keyboard shortcuts. Imprint commonly used commands on a keyboard notepad for easy access.
- Use your tools wisely: Hands-free phone use is a necessity at times. But holding the receiver in place with a shoulder can wreak havoc on associates’ necks and backs. A set of wireless ear buds or a Bluetooth® headset allows them to type or write while they talk. Avoid eye strain by placing computer monitors at least an arm’s length away. Gaming Glasses with an anti-reflective coating reduce glare. These ergonomic gifts not only support good practices, they encourage productivity, too.
- Get moving: Experts say sitting is the new smoking. It slows blood flow, weakens abdominal muscles and thins bones. If possible, help employees combat “sitting disease” with a standing desk. For those who must work seated, encourage them to get up and walk or stretch every hour. Hold prize drawings for those who do—employees can drop their name in a basket (located away from their workspace) for a chance to win a prize. An ergonomically shaped mouse or pen makes a great ergonomic gift idea.
Share these simple tips (and ergonomic gifts) with your entire organization. The result will be a more comfortable, healthier and happier workforce.