With Back Care Awareness Week fresh in the mind, businesses across the UK are continuing to be warned of the dangers of sitting uncomfortably in unsupportive chairs for prolonged periods.
A recent report by Digby Brown Solicitors revealed that a large proportion of the 600,000 or so workplace injuries recorded every year in the UK, can be rooted back to outdated and unsafe office furniture.
This is a real concern for many businesses and organisations, but by investing in safe office furniture, not only is risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders such as damage to the joints in the neck and back reduced, but productivityis also enhanced.
It is fundamental, therefore, that employers take the appropriate precautions to invest in office solutions that nurture an employee’s physical health, as opposed to compromising on safety. Here, Lloyd Coldrick, Managing Director of Cobus explains the benefits of ergonomic furniture on both physical and mental wellbeing.
Ergonomic furniture is specifically designed for efficiency and comfort in the working environment.Differing from traditional office furniture, ergonomic chairs ensure the user’s body is kept in a safe and upright position to reduce stress on the spine, neck and hips.
This is achieved by a head rest which supports the neck and shoulders, and a back rest to support the natural curve of the spine. Simple features like these can prevent cervical spondylosis (neck arthritis) in later life.
To further support posture, you can adjust the height of an ergonomic chair to ensure you are sitting with your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle, parallel to your hips. Even just sitting on an ergonomic chair avoids exerting pressure on your hips, with a seat depth of two to four inches from the back of your knees.
The adjustability of an ergonomic chair is its fundamental function. Most traditional office chairs can’t be adapted, which can increase the risk of workplace injuries.
Another growing trend in ergonomics, and fast becoming compulsory in some offices, is the sit-stand desk, which is designed to get staff up and moving more.
New research by Loughborough University revealed that standing at a desk while working boosts productivity.
Employees from the NHS found that by having the option to stand at their desk, time spent sitting down was reduced by more than an hour a day compared with their colleagues.
The year-long study also found that the 77 employees felt less tired and more engaged when using height-adjustable workstations, while also reporting improvements in musculoskeletal problems, according to the British Medical Journal.
In fact, Denmark has made it mandatory for employers to offer sit-stand desks to their staff, while most Swedish businesses have made them commonplace.
The sit-stand desk comes in a variety of shapes, sizes and mechanisms that all reduce the risk of aches, injuries and cardiovascular disease by up to 40 per cent.An employee’s muscle activity is almost 2.5 times higher when standing at work, which further reduces the risk of sustaining a workplace injury.
Other ergonomic solutions include keyboards that can help increase typing speeds by reducing repetitive reaching and stretching, and pivotal monitors that allow employees to focus on their screens for longer periods of time, by reducing eye strains and headaches.
Overall, by empowering employees with the highest quality office solutions, greater productivity and quality of work will be achieved, all while protecting and promoting their wellbeing.