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The Advantages of Creating an Ergonomically Friendly Workplace

Thursday, January 14, 2010
By Anne Kramer

Ergonomics is one of the few applied sciences that have clear benefits in virtually any industry or workplace. Yet ergonomics is also frequently overlooked as a means for measurably improving the safety, productivity, and diversity of a workplace. In the long run, using ergonomics to guide layout and task management decisions makes sound financial sense.

Ergonomics Improves Safety

Perhaps the most tangible benefit of ergonomics is the reduction in workplace injuries. While many injuries are incurred due to heavy lifting, works also suffer injury even from seemingly harmless tasks like computer use. Just like heavy lifting injuries, most Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI) can be prevented with simple ergonomic measures:

  • The incidence of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be reduced with simple and inexpensive equipment like wrist rests. Replacing regular mice with track balls or foot switches also decreases the development of “trigger finger” pain, which shoots up the arm, shoulders, and neck.
  • Adding anti-fatigue mats to laboratories or standing work areas reduces the strain on feet, legs, and the back. Anti-fatigue mats also provide protection against slip and fall injuries.
  • Adjustable chairs and desks allow workers to fit their workstation to their individual needs, supporting proper posture and reducing pressure on the back and shoulders.

These interventions protect employees from injuries, which reduces the number of days missed at work and decreases the expenses incurred due to workers’ compensation claims and increased medical costs.

Ergonomics Increases Productivity

By streamlining everyday operations and improving functionality, ergonomics helps employees to work more efficiently. A whole office approach to ergonomics improves productivity, promoting income generation.

  • An office space planning consultation helps to determine the best layout for the office and configuration for every piece of equipment, from cubicles to copy machines, based on employees’ duties and daily interactions.
  • Individual ergonomic workspace evaluations allow employees to arrange their spaces to simplify and support the completion of their day-to-day tasks.
  • Ergonomic injury prevention also results in employees’ being in the office more often, where they can continue to work safely each day.

Ergonomics Encourages Diversity

The wide variety of ergonomic tools available means that virtually anyone can be enabled to do a vast array of jobs. Ergonomics allows people with disabilities or other physical limitations to participate in the workforce.

  • Tools with ergonomic handles and seats with additional lumbar support allow older employees to remain on the job, despite osteoarthritis or other degenerative conditions that affect the joints and spine.
  • Electronic magnifiers assist employees with vision loss, while insulated cubicles cut down on background noise for workers with hearing loss.
  • Carts and desktop carousels help pregnant workers to move heavy loads or frequently used objects with minimal motion and reaching.

Ultimately, ergonomics offers a comprehensive solution to many challenges that face every business, regardless of industry. By fostering diversity, improving productivity, and increasing safety, ergonomics promotes the development of a happy, healthy work environment.




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