Office Ergonomics

Office ErgonomicsOffice ergonomics is concerned with the way in which an office worker interacts with the office environment. A large percentage of the working population, work in offices these days and office ergonomics is more important today than it has ever been. You may often hear people complain about back, shoulder and neck problems as well as headaches however rarely are the symptoms connected with how the person works.

Office ergonomics is the study of how the person is working and its aim is to drastically reduce pain and discomfort by ensuring that the persons environment is set up correctly. It could be as simple as the way in which a person sits at their desk or the position of the desk in relation to the chair. It is estimated that only 1 in 8 of the injuries office workers suffer are reported often times because they do not make the association. In some cases they simply take sick leave and assume that the issue will go away.

It is important for organisations to have an office ergonomics strategy that goes beyond having an untrained internal member of staff perform some minor checks. A well structure office ergonomics program will always pay for itself by helping to increase productivity and reduce sick leave due to injury. Organisations should also ensure that they provide ergonomic office advice to  staff  as employers are responsible for staff injuries obtained while working regardless of where the injuries occur.

Office Ergonomics Checklist

Office Ergonomics ChecklistPosture – Activity – Exercise

  • Maintain proper posture, paying careful attention to positioning of head, neck/spine, arms/wrists, hips/thighs and feet. Basically, ensure the small of your back is supported, your shoulders relaxed (not slumped, not elevated), and that there is no pressure under your thighs.
  • Alternate between different postures on a regular basis.
  • When keyboarding, use minimum force while striking the keys.
  • Keep a neutral position, where the forearms, wrists and hands are in a straight line.
  • Avoid awkward reaching for work tools such as telephone, mouse and reference materials.
  • Avoid resting elbows, forearms or wrists on hard surfaces or sharp edges.
  • Take frequent mini-breaks throughout the day to give muscles and joints a chance to rest and recover.
  • Alternate between work activities which use different muscle groups to avoid overuse.
  • Give eyes a break by closing them momentarily, gazing at a distant object and blinking frequently.
  • Proper exercises are a complement to a complete office ergonomics program. Consult with us to select appropriate exercises.

Lighting – Air – Noise

  • Maintain appropriate light levels for specific tasks. More illumination is usually needed to read a document than a computer screen.
  • Reduce or eliminate glare by using window shades, diffusers on overhead lighting and anti-glare filters for computers.
  • Adjust the contrast and brightness on your computer screen to a comfortable level.
  • Get a regular eye exam and if necessary, wear corrective lenses. Tell your eye specialist how often you use the computer.
  • Clean the computer screen and other surfaces regularly.
  • Reduce the number of dust collecting items like papers and files on your desk.
  • If necessary, use a portable air cleaner to reduce airborne particles like dust, pollen and mold.
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature by using layers of clothing or a portable fan or heater.
  • Be considerate to others working in the area and conduct meetings and conversations in appropriate areas.
  • Position fabric partitions to reduce noise from conversations, foot traffic and equipment, like copiers and printers.
  • Identify distracting noises and try headphines, ear plugs, soft music or a quiet fan to reduce or mask the noise.

Work Style – Organization – Breaks

  • Reduce stress by planning ahead and setting realistic expectations for what you can accomplish during the workday.
  • Organize your workload to help even out busy and slow times, to avoid feeling “swamped”.
  • Vary tasks to make the day more interesting. For example, deliver a message in person instead of phoning.
  • Avoid long periods of repetitive activity. For example, alternate computer work with other tasks like phone calls, filing, copying and meetings.
  • Organize equipment, supplies and furniture in the most efficient arrangement for daily tasks.
  • Enhance privacy by using office partitions and privacy filters for computer screens or documents.
  • Acknowledge ideas and accomplishments of co-workers on a regular basis.
  • Develop stress reduction and relaxation techniques which work for you at the office and at home.
  • Personalize your office with a few favorite items, like artwork, photos and plants.
  • Take mini-breaks that re-energize, invigorate and refresh.
  • Follow these same ergonomic guidelines at home, in meetings and while travelling