Monday, July 1, 2013

Ergonomics – What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

In order to work efficiently throughout the day, it is important that employees have everything they might need in their working environment to optimize their productivity, avoid any illness and injury risk, and ensure that they are comfortable and satisfied.  This is where ergonomics comes in to play.  Ergonomics in the workplace is the ability to maximize productivity by minimizing employee fatigue and discomfort.  Ergonomics examines the relationship between workers and their environments by looking at what kind of work an individual does, what tools he/she uses, and his/her level of satisfaction with the work environment.  The goal of ergonomics is to find the best fit between an individual and the conditions of his/her work environment.  Specifically speaking, ergonomics aims to improve employee performance, safety, comfort, and satisfaction, and also reduce stress and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with muscle overuse, bad posture, repeated movements, and overall discomfort in the workplace.  Ergonomic practices are considered successful as long as the following three points remain true:

  1. High levels of productivity are maintained
  2. Painful employee injuries are avoided and expensive worker compensation and health care costs are decreasing
  3. Worker satisfaction and comfort are increasing
Ergonomics emphasizes the importance that all furniture and accessories in the workplace, including the desk chair, the workstation itself, and even the lighting, should be adjustable in order to satisfy each individual worker’s needs.  The ideal workstation should allow you to work in natural positions that will minimize any strain on your body.  A workstation that does not meet your physical needs will most likely result in you assuming uncomfortable, unnatural, and awkward positions, which may ultimately lead to musculoskeletal injury as well as the performance of unproductive and inefficient work.

Studies have shown that ergonomic-related injuries typically account for approximately $20 billion in worker’s compensation costs each year. $20 BILLION!  That is not a small chunk of change!!!  Thankfully, new studies done by the Office Ergonomics Research Committee (OERC) have shown average productivity increases of 18% in employees who are provided with appropriately designed ergonomic furniture and are trained to use it properly.  Such significant increases in productivity levels among employees are not only a result of their use of well-designed ergonomic furniture but also of their successful implementation of proper workstation ergonomics.  Since promoting proper ergonomics in the workplace can be seen to result in increased employee productivity and satisfaction, keep an eye out for our next post in which we will go over the specific guidelines of proper workstation ergonomics!!

For more information about innovative ergonomic workspace solutions, please visit the Ergotech Group website: www.ergotechgroup.com

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Written by Julia Cavaliere – Ergotech Group, INC.
July 1, 2013