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The Importance of Ergonomics in the Work Place

The Importance of Ergonomics in the Work Place

Are you constantly looking for ways to increase productivity in the work place? If so, you’ve surely encountered the concept of ergonomics, but what does it entail?

According to the International Ergonomics Association, ergonomics is a scientific discipline that aims to understand the interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design, to optimise human well-being and overall system performance.

Ergonomics is a complex discipline that marries sciences like anatomy, physiology and psychology and the arts to conceive designs that adapt to people’s needs, instead of the other way around. It has several branches like Physical Ergonomics, which is concerned with human anatomical, anthropometric, physiological and biomechanical characteristics as they relate to physical activity; Cognitive Ergonomics which is concerned with the mental processes like perception, memory and reasoning, and the effect they have in the interactions among humans and other elements of a system; and Organisational Ergonomics which is concerned with the optimisation of sociotechnical systems.

But why does ergonomics matter when looking to increase office productivity?

Ergonomics, applied in the work place, aims to improve work space environment, as well as minimise the risk of work-related injuries and illnesses. It ensures that the tools used at work meet the body’s requirements to attain the most effective and efficient results.

There are several benefits to having an ergonomic work space:

  1. Ergonomic solutions save companies money
    Musculoskeletal disorders (more commonly called as MSD) is a disorder that affects the nerves, muscles and/or tendons and usually occurs at work. According to Safe Work Australia’s findings, the total economic costs of injuries and illnesses acquired at work is estimated to be at a little more than $60 billion dollars. Furthermore, the CDC found that MSDs are one of the biggest contributors to lost work time on the employees’ part. Making your work place ergonomic, prevents work-related injuries and illnesses which cuts down company expenses. Making your work place ergonomic also increases employees’ work time by preventing MSD, hence contributing to the company’s efficient income generation.
  2. Ergonomic solutions increase productivity
    By employing proper ergonomics, you encourage your employees to work within a “comfort zone”, hence reducing awkward postures that give the employees unnecessary fatigue. You also improve productivity by reducing high force requirements that can slow work down. By using ergonomic tools, like mechanical assists, counter balance systems, and powered equipment, you will reduce the amount of effort and muscle exertions needed to get the job done. Productivity is also improved by reducing highly repetitive tasks that eat up time unnecessarily, especially when combined with other risk factors like high-force and awkward postures that may cause fatigue.
  3. Ergonomics improve employee well-being
    Given that ergonomics prevent work related illnesses like MSD, it promotes the well-being of the employees. Not only will it lessen the fatigue that’s caused by inefficient tools that force poor posture, it will also boost the employees’ mental health and morale. Furthermore, adopting concepts like cognitive ergonomics in the work place can also improve your employees’ decision-making skills and overall cognitive performance.

Transforming your work place around ergonomic solutions can have huge benefits to staff though it isn’t an easy process. There are several things to consider when looking to update your office and we’ve build out a few of them below for your consideration.

  • Know your budget
    Prioritising ergonomics in the workplace can require some pricey updates so it’s important to budget and plan ahead. Partnering with a specialist that consult and stock ergonomic office solutions might be the most appropriate solution if you’re looking for a fully managed supplier. Businesses such as OfficeMax provide advice on best practice and can also assist with spatial design and installation. If your requirements are particularly complex it can pay dividends to partner with a fully managed supplier that can build cost efficiencies into the process.
  • Divide and prioritise work areas
    Since there’s a significant cost to improving your workplace, it pays to divide the space into several sections (especially if you’re working with a large floor area) and to prioritise which project you should work on first. Don’t blow all of your company’s resources by redesigning everything all at once. Not only will it create a financial problem for your business, it will also disrupt the work flow that generates your income. You must remember that while it is important to upgrade your space to a more productive environment, business must run as usual.
  • Ensure proper implementation
    Proper planning is like winning a battle, but proper execution is winning the war. No matter how intensive, efficient and economic your plans are, without proper implementation, it all means nothing. To ensure that your plan will be executed properly, be critical of who will do the implementation. Make sure to hire professionals that can do the scope of work that your work place requires. Furthermore, it would be best for you to hire someone who has significant experience in the job you require. Doing so will help you avoid paying unnecessary costs that may be incurred if you work with someone who lacks experience. Try asking for recommendations. Remember, satisfied clients often are happy to recommend people they have had a pleasant experience with.

Thinking of turning your office into an ergonomic space? Take your time and plan wisely. The long-term benefits to staff will far outweigh the cost of the transition in the short term.

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