Ergonomics – what you need to know!
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics or ‘human factors’ is a psychological and physiological approach to the design of the workplace, including products, systems and processes. Ergonomics work to fit the individual’s needs and optimise the efficiency of their working environment and well-being.
Ergonomic injuries and costs
Poor ergonomics can cause negative effects on your health:
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – MSDs are conditions affecting the muscles, nerves, tendons and tendon sheaths. Conditions include Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bursitis.
- Back injuries – Poorly implemented ergonomics can affect individuals through simply sitting or standing for long periods of time, by working in an environment where it is necessary to lift heavy items or by adopting an uncomfortable posture whilst sitting at a desk.
- Ganglion cysts – Ganglion cysts are hard lumps usually found in the wrist or fingers. The cause of this the overuse of the joint which leads to information.
- Headaches – Headaches and Migraines are common when working in an office environment where it is likely you will be looking at a computer screen for long periods of time. Headaches can also be an effect of poor posture due to the strain and stress applied to muscles that activate trigger points in the head.
- Stiff neck – This is usually caused by keeping your neck in one position for too long.
With the number of workplace injuries that can occur due to poor workplace ergonomics, it is no surprise that this can directly impact business. Costs relating to ergonomics can incur from loss of productivity due to employees taking time off work and healthcare costs.
Research from HSE states that between 2016/17 614,000 people were injured in the workplace, and an estimation of the economic cost of this came in at £14.9bn. HSE also affirm that an estimated 16,000 workers leave work permanently as a result of a workplace injury or work-related ill health.
To prevent such injuries, it is vital that your workplace implement good ergonomic practices and make this a priority for your employees.
Initially, it is important for the workplace to invest in ergonomic furniture that is best suited for each individual employee, such as ergonomic chairs or height adjustable desks. But other than this, it is important to take into consideration other factors that could affect the ergonomics of the workplace such as:
- Technology – If working in an office it is crucial to have technology, such as a computer, in good condition. If a computer was to be slow, this may lead to frustration.
- Temperature – The temperature can often affect concentration depending on the individual, if it is too hot or too cold it could hinder the ability to work effectively.
- Lighting – As mentioned earlier, lighting on computers can cause headaches and migraines, but this can be the same for the lighting of a room.
- Noise – For employees working in loud environments this may distract them from working as efficiently as they can, therefore providing quiet workplace environments will be beneficial for their productivity.
- Workplace layout – If a workplace is small and cramped or messy, employees may feel their personal space is being invaded or untidy, resulting in these feelings reflecting on their work productivity and mindset.
When individuals in the workplace are being impacted by poor ergonomics, which will ultimately affect their ability to work efficiently, it could be a good idea to get a ‘DSE Assessment’ carried out. At VergoUK, DSE assessments include a full written report of the existing workstation to help line managers and the ‘End User’ identify any issues with current setups or identify specific products that may allow DSE related issues to be resolved.