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Ergonomics 101: Mastering Your Work Space for Better Health

  • Dr. Steve Young
  • 20 Feb, 2023

Good ergonomics refers to the science of designing and arranging the workplace to fit the needs of the worker. It involves setting up a comfortable and safe workspace, allowing individuals to perform their duties effectively without causing injury. Whether you work from home, in an office, or in a factory, proper ergonomics is vital in ensuring your health and productivity. This blog discusses the importance of good ergonomics and provides self-help solutions to achieve it.

Importance of Good Ergonomics

Poor ergonomics can lead to a host of physical problems, including back pain, neck pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. If left untreated, these issues can result in chronic pain, decreased productivity, and even long-term disabilities. Proper ergonomics reduces the risk of workplace injuries and can boost productivity by making workers more comfortable and efficient.

Additionally, good ergonomics can benefit mental health. Sitting in the same position for hours can cause stress, leading to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism. Simple adjustments, such as changing the height of your chair or desk, can reduce physical and mental strain.

Self-help Solutions for Proper Ergonomics

Adjust Your Workspace
Adjusting your workspace is one of the most effective ways to ensure good ergonomics. The first step is to adjust your chair's height so that your feet are flat on the floor, and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. If your chair doesn't have adjustable height, use a footrest to achieve the same result. Next, adjust your desk's height so that your forearms are parallel to the ground, and your wrists are straight while using the keyboard.
Take Frequent Breaks
Taking frequent breaks can help prevent physical and mental strain. Stand up, stretch, and move around for a few minutes every hour. Set a reminder on your phone to ensure that you don't forget to take breaks.
Use Proper Lighting
Working in poor lighting conditions can lead to eye strain and headaches. Ensure that your workspace is well-lit, preferably with natural light. Use adjustable task lighting to reduce eye strain and fatigue.
Use Proper Posture
Sitting with proper posture is crucial in preventing back and neck pain. Sit with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and feet flat on the floor. Avoid slouching or leaning forward.
Use Ergonomic Equipment
Using ergonomic equipment can help prevent physical strain and injury. Invest in an ergonomic keyboard and mouse, as well as an adjustable monitor stand to ensure that your screen is at eye level.

Proper ergonomics is essential in ensuring workplace safety and productivity. By adjusting your workspace, taking frequent breaks, using proper lighting, using proper posture, and investing in ergonomic equipment, you can reduce physical and mental strain while increasing productivity. If you experience chronic pain or discomfort despite taking these steps, consult a healthcare professional.

References:

  • Janwantanakul, P., & Pensri, P. (2009). The association between physical activity and neck and low back pain: a systematic review. European Spine Journal, 18(4), 341-353. doi: 10.1007/s00586-008-0805-z
  • Rempel, D., Krause, N., & Goldberg, R. (2004). Working with computers: epidemiology of spontaneous reports. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 46(1), 58-63. doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000105910.77033.ea
  • Straker, L., Levine, J., & Campbell, A. (2008). The effects of walking and cycling computer workstations on keyboard and mouse performance. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 50(4), 565-574. doi: 10.1518/001872008x288404
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2000). Ergonomics: The Study of Work. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/
  • National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. (1997). Musculoskeletal disorders and workplace factors. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-141/
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety. (2018). Ergonomics. Retrieved from https://www.ccohs.ca/topics/hazards/ergonomic/
  • Mayo Clinic. (2022). Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169
  • Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Good ergonomics is smart business. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Good_ergonomics_is_smart_business
  • World Health Organization. (2020). Musculoskeletal conditions. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/musculoskeletal-conditions

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