Ergonomics is the study of people and their working conditions -
Much time is spent in an office environment, using workstations, chairs and other furniture so it’s important to ensure the maximum comfort and efficiency in your office.
Uncomfortable working environments and bad posture can lead to injury and health problems. This in turn leads to lower productivity and time off.
Working conditions should be designed around the workers themselves, and remember that prevention is better than cure. When buying new equipment and furniture, take your time and research well, keeping your staff’s needs foremost.
Putting Ergonomics into Practice -
Matching the workplace to the comfort needs of your workers is the basic tenet of ergonomic practice.
By creating an ergonomic office you can reduce the potential of your workers developing physical problems, which affect productivity and attendance, not to mention would-be compensation claims.
Well-designed offices with carefully chosen office furniture is a positive step for the health and morale of your employees.
Every day, hours will be spent sitting in your chair, so the more you can spend on good office chairs, the better. It’s design will affect the way you work and for how long.
When choosing office chairs, take into account how long you will spend in it at any one time and the total length of time every day. Look for comfort, adjustability and finish.
Modern office chairs cater for a wide range of uses – from typists and operators chairs to executive leather chairs. All are designed with a particular purpose in mind. Ensure that the chair you buy maintains the correct posture –
Wedges make the user lean forward so that the knees are lower than the hips.
Height adjusters help to maintain the correct level of the user in respect to the desk and the keyboard.
Lumbar support assists back posture. Lumbar rolls can be used to provide additional support.
The basic idea is that the workstation should be fully adjustable, mobile and versatile. Every person is different and will have different needs.
Important elements are desk height, shape and size. Ensure that the user is sitting directly in front of their monitor, whilst maintaining comfort and a distance of at least 25cm from the eye to the screen.
Make sure there will be enough desk space for all necessary items. There should also be plenty of room to adjust the monitor, keyboard and mouse in order to adopt a comfortable working position and correct posture.
Hands will benefit from using wrist rests for the keyboard and mouse. These can be either gel or foam and will help prevent RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury).
For those who spend a lot of time on the phone, a cradle can be used to take strain from the neck. You may also want to use phones with hands-free speakers. As for the legs, pressure can be effectively moved from the feet and calves by using a footrest.
Make sure this is indirect, and flexible to suit the needs of individuals. Use blinds and shades in the office to fully control outside light. Also use monitors that can be angled to suit the user, and purchase anti-glare filters; these are relatively cheap.
Ensure that the monitor is not affected by direct sunlight as this will strain the user’s eyes. If natural sunlight is not available, use daylight effect strip lights instead. They provide significantly more light than standard strip lights.
Are you committed to quality management and environmental standards?
If so, make sure the furniture supplier comes with written statements relating to the ISO 9000 quality assurance standard (9001 for manufacture, ISO 9002 for service) and the ISO 14001 environmental management standard (which addresses such issues as dust, discharge waste, use of non-toxic lacquers etc in the manufacturing process).
Other standards relating to furniture design and construction are BS 6396 (wire management), BS 7179 (design ergonomics for VDU workers), BS 4875 (strength and stability), BS 5852 (upholstered furniture, including the use of fire retardant fabrics) and BS EN ISO 9241-5:1999 (ergonomic requirements for office work with VDU screens).