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Wellness at Work – Ergonomics

This month we are talking about Ergonomics – One of those words that we all go “yeah” I know what that is (sort of) and then go off and think of something else!

However it’s a word worth thinking about.  How often at the end of the day do you get up from your desk and think yikes I’ve been on that chair for over 8 hours. You stretch and then realise that you haven’t actually straightened your back in those 8 hours sitting busily at your desk.  This is where Ergonomics comes into play.

Ergonomics is the “Study of capabilities and limitations of mental and physical work in different settings. Ergonomics applies anatomical, physiological, and psychological knowledge (called human factors) to work and work environments in order to reduce or eliminate factors that cause pain or discomfort. Ergonomic designs of tools and equipment have helped curtail the occurrence of musculoskeltal disorders and repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTL). Also called human engineering.”

Translated into the office environment it’s all the factors that impact the health, wellbeing and most importantly the productivity of employees from desks, chairs, workstations to stress management, working hours and working practices.

As employers we have a duty of care to ensure our employees are provided with a comfortable and supportive workplace however it is also up to each employee to be aware of the impact of bad ergonomics and adjust themselves accordingly.  Some elements are easier to fix than others and here’s a list to start with!

The most obvious to look at first are the physical set ups: 

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These are all critical elements that can be relatively easily fixed and can have a considerable impact in your wellbeing at work.  As many as 1 in 5 regular computer users are diagnosed with a musculoskeletal problem affecting the upper limbs.

Next look at the environmental aspects:

Ergonomics

Interestingly there is term used for buildings with a high proportion (more than 20%) of its occupants reporting illness which are believed to be related to the actual building “Sick Building Syndrome”.  Illnesses such as respiratory, skin, nerve, headaches, nausea, fatigue, eye and nasal problems which often are relieved once leaving the building can cause increases in sickness absenteeism and causes a decrease in productivity of the workers.

The reasons for a Sick Building are often down to bad ventilation, overuse of chemical products, external fumes or moulds and funguses which unless addressed and fixed will be detrimental to any business working in such an environment.  This is the extreme end of the scale and if you think your building is sick, it is vital to have it checked by an expert.

You may not even realise you are working in an Non Ergonomic environment yet wonder why are you feeling stiff, joint pain, headaches and possibly stressed as a result of it.

A well-designed workspace is proven to increase productivity. One that provides comfort, a sense of privacy and space and is aesthetically pleasing promotes happiness, motivation and collaboration.

Research has shown that effective office ergonomics interventions on average reduce the number of musculoskeletal problems by 61%, reduce lost workdays by 88% and reduce staff turnover by 87%. The Cost:Benefit Ratio is on average 1:1.78 with a payback period of 0.4 years.

So remember…

  • As an employer check in with your employees regularly and listen to any concerns – happy employees are productive and motivated.
  • As an employee alert your manager if you’re not happy with your set up and remember to stand up, stretch and straighten your every 30 mins – it will do wonders for you!

Keep in mind that these are all critical elements that can have a considerable impact in your wellbeing at work. Voltedge advises and supports clients on all HR issues including wellbeing at work. For further information, contact us at info@voltedge.ie.

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