Just how important is workplace ergonomics?
The answer to that is it’s VERY important in every field and work setting, but in today’s computer-dominated economy, office ergonomics largely focus around the computer workstation.
That’s not to say that nurses and blue-collar heavy industry workers aren’t in need of ergonomic principles at work—in fact, they need it much more because of the additional physical demand their work requires.
The need for applicable, effective workplace ergonomics remains a constant whether workers are sedentary or active. Work injuries in Eden Prairie can happen all the time, and can often be prevented.
Keeping Back Injury and Spinal Damage in Check
Back injury is one of the most common work-related injuries—it is also one of the most preventable. More often than not, however, the responsibility lies with the worker rather than the employer.
Improper lifting of heavy objects, slouching in office chairs and prolonged repetitive motions can all contribute directly to increased risk of injury. It is both the employer’s and employee’s responsibility to mitigate these risks by adopting common-sense principles of workplace ergonomics.
There are few easy ways to do this:
- Encourage frequent breaks—even if it seems like a hamper to production, the truth is that taking a two-minute break every half hour helps reduce the risk of non-accidental injury in office environments, according to Kelly Andrews, DC. These breaks can also encourage employees to remain more focused while they are on the job.
- Teach Proper Lifting Technique—Lifting technique is a lot like CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver: people who don’t know it often believe they do. Teaching proper lifting is as important in industrial or medical environments as it is in office environments—computer servers, stacks of documents and other equipment can all cause injury when lifted improperly.
- Increase Ergonomic Awareness—The simple act of making employees and co-workers more aware of ergonomic concerns and risks can generate improvement in workplace safety. Simple things such as workplace indicators and signs can help drill proper techniques into employees’ minds.
Is Ergonomic Office Furniture Worth the Cost?c
In many cases, ergonomic furniture can result in increased productivity. Even small, seemingly insignificant gains can multiply when spread throughout an entire workforce over the course of a year.
Some examples of ergonomic furniture or equipment in the workplace include: standing desks, lumbar support for a chair, wrist padding at the keyboard, a modified mouse, a headset for a phone, and many others. Depending on an individual’s repeated work demands, selecting the right equipment can significantly reduce strain on the body.
It’s often difficult to place a specific rate of return on ergonomic investment, but the savings are there. Happy, healthy employees who don’t suffer from painful musculoskeletal conditions are bound to work harder and more efficiently than their less fortunate counterparts.
Contact Wellspring Health Center and schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists to learn more about workplace ergonomics and what you can do to protect your health.