New Year resolutions usually focus on ‘New year, new me' but what about ‘New Year, new ergonomic office'?
Office ergonomics is the science which centres around designing the work environment to fit within the capabilities and limitations of the worker to allow for a comfortable space that maximises productivity and efficiency.
With Health and Safety legislation being such a crucial element of today's work place, ergonomics is often at the bottom of the ‘To Do' list after risk identification, regulatory compliance, and training development is sorted.
However, disorders associated with a poor working environment is the fastest growing category of work-related illness with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) being the greatest issue, often presenting itself as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, and myositis.
Back pain is first noticed often as ache, soreness, tension and tightness. When a spasm occurs, however, it can range from moderate to overwhelming pain that can worsen or persist for months or even years.
Businesses that ignore the risks are opening themselves up to increased employee sickness at best to potential compensation claims at worse. So, creating a good ergonomic office environment makes complete financial sense.
But this is only part of the story. A good ergonomic environment creates a positive safety culture that keeps the work force safe and aids employee engagement, with all the resultant benefits of improved productivity and output quality.
Designing an ergonomic office environment is not as difficult as it first appears, as James Pointon, Director of Apple Mac leasing provider, QUBE Leasing, explains.
James said, "there are many ways to create a positive physical environment that minimises work stress in the office and the first thing to be aware of is the position of the monitor which should be positioned directly in front of the worker, with eye level approximately 2"- 3"below the top of the monitor screen.
"The neck and shoulders should be in a relaxed and neutral position and, if more than one monitor is used, both should be easily visible without having to turn the head. It is also advisable not to maintain the same position for extended periods of time so standing up, walking around, or doing some light stretches for a few minutes every hour or so.
"Try to keep arms close to the body and not too far away from the keyboard and mouse. Reducing fatigue in the shoulders and arms is important so ensure a typing posture keeps that keeps the elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, and the weight of the arms supported at all times.
"Also think about how to combat eye strain. For example, position the desk in a well-lit area that avoids glare on the screen or reduce the brightness of the monitor. Maybe change the computer's settings so that the colour scheme has enough contrast to ensure that the eyes don't have to work harder than they need to.
"And consider using a headset for phones or mobiles rather than positioning the device between the head and shoulder, as this will definitely contribute to a variety of neck problems over time."
No matter whether a sit or stand position is adopted while working, improving the overall office ergonomics will make a positive contribution to the health of the workforce and, ultimately, reap rewards for a socially responsible business.