“About $1 billion a week is spent in the United States to deal with entirely preventable work-related musculoskeletal injuries, many of which are caused by small flaws in body positioning,” a recent New York Times article reports.
Long periods of little to no movement or sitting can lead to feelings of body discomfort, fatigue and an increase in health-related diseases. Ergonomic workplace options can assist with many of these problems, as well as increase overall employee satisfaction and performance.
There are several different areas to consider when providing a complete, ergonomically correct work setting for employees. Here are our top five areas to start your organization’s journey to workplace well-being.
Height-Adjustable Desks and Sit-Stand Converters
Height-adjustable standing desks and sit-stand converters allow individuals to change their position from sitting to standing. According to a Stanford University study, “after 15 days of use with a sit-stand workstation, participants reported an increase in working comfort as there was a significant decrease in back pain.”
This “helps prevent the cumulative hazards of poor posture and too much sitting while improving circulation, calorie-burn and insulin management,” Ergotron says.
Ergonomic Office Chairs
An adjustable chair with lumbar support provides proper body alignment to reduce the strain on the neck, back and arms while in a sitting position. Sitting for long periods of time with incorrect posture can lead to long-term joint and back pain. According to OSHA, “Working in awkward postures or being in the same posture for long periods of time … may lead to the development of MSDs,” also known as musculoskeletal disorder.
Mayo Clinic touches on the importance of choosing a chair that’s height adjustable, allowing you to “lay your feet flat on the floor as well as with adjustable arm rests that allow your arms to gently rest on them with your shoulders relaxed.”
Height-Adjustable Monitor Arms
To further prevent muscle strain, monitors may need to be attached to a monitor arm to ensure natural posture alignment on your desk. According to University of Washington’s Dr. Peter W. Johnson, monitor distance should be 18–32 inches from eyes to screen (arms distance) and depending on size, the monitor may need to be repositioned (higher or lower) to accommodate your natural alignment.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) can result from placing too much stress on a joint. A Princeton University article mentions how, “Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and thoracic outlet syndrome are two of the most disabling repetitive strain injuries.” Ergonomic keyboard design features assist with positioning hands and wrists in a more natural position. Design features such as shape slant, palm rest along with key travel and spacing provide comfort for longer periods of productivity while reducing discomfort.
Often overlooked, mice can be just as problematic. The repetitive nature and unnatural hand positioning of some mice can lead to problems ranging from mild discomfort to numbness in the thumb. “Ergonomic mice are designed to limit or eliminate movements that have been known to cause these injuries or aggravate them in people who already suffer from RSIs,” says PC Magazine‘s Mike Epstein. Ergonomic mice are available in several form factors — including vertical, horizontal or hybrid — and each one offers different benefits. You will want to determine which offers the most comfort while delivering the best user experience.
Correct posture alignment will provide an increase in overall employee satisfaction as workers won’t endure pain, allowing them to work more comfortably and be more productive.
Other items to consider might include mouse wrist pads, standing mats, laptop risers and more, which all help to alleviate pain and discomfort while at work.