24th Jan, 2020 Read time 3 minutes

How ergonomics factors into the health and safety of an office

Creating an environment that your workers are comfortable operating in is good for both your employees’ health and wellbeing and the productivity of your office. Office ergonomics can play a big part in improving the health of your workers.

Poorly positioned screens and keyboards can increase the risk of RSI and ligament damage which can lead to less work being done. Equally, introducing changes which support good ergonomics like suitable chairs and standing desks have shown a reported increase in productivity and employee morale. Here are some of the ways that ergonomics can link to workplace health and safety and how to develop the comfort of your workplace.

What exactly does ergonomics mean?

Broadly speaking, ergonomics covers the study and improvement of people’s performance and efficiency in their working environment. The study of ergonomics does not just concern offices, the field can be applied to all workplaces including factories, farms, retail stores and others. Indeed ergonomics can often play a more critical role in regards to health and safety in more industrial workplaces due to the presence of heavy machinery.

What ergonomic changes can I make in my workplace?

Ergonomic changes can be made throughout the office, with areas of improvement that could be made on desk areas, lighting and accessibility to the office. The plan you take will depend on the size of the office and the aims you are trying to achieve, be them improvements to health and safety or productivity.

  1. Introduce standing desks

Standing desks have grown in popularity in recent years due to the increasing concern around the ‘dangerously sedentary’ lifestyle a large number of the population experience within work. Introducing standing desks is good for your employee’s posture and can help assist in employee fatigue throughout the day.

A study by the University of Leicester suggested that large scale implementation of standing desks would increase productivity at work and improve the health of your employees.

  1. Ergonomic keyboards and mice

Coupled with standing desks, many offices have now started to introduce ergonomic desk equipment in an attempt to better manage their health and safety. A good keyboard with a wrist rest reduces tension in the hands and keeps them in a natural position. From a health and safety perspective, this reduces the risk of RSI; and from a productivity perspective, it has shown to increase the type rate of employees.

  1. Introduce screen breaks

One way that you can improve office ergonomics without introducing new equipment is through screen breaks. Encourage employees to take opportunities to get away from their desks to perform other work or take a drinks break. This will reduce the risk of an over-sedentary working schedule and lessen the risk of burnout.

  1. Give areas for employees to work away from desks

Many modern offices are moving away from the traditional desk workspace with more ‘lounge’ type working areas. If you have not invested in these, it is worth considering. They give your employees a chance to get away from their desks without taking a full break from work.

 

Investing in ergonomics may improve your workplace

For many office workers, the field of health and safety can sometimes feel like a waste of time, however, ergonomics is one of the areas where a workers health can be significantly improved, both in the short and long term. Our article on working display equipment discusses some of the areas in which office ergonomics can be significantly improved.

HSE Network
Article by: HSE Network

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