Employee, are you counting the minutes until the end of your workday because lower back or neck pain is bringing tears into your eyes? Are tension headaches stopping you from focusing on work? Is your performance suffering? Employer, have you noticed such problems in your company?

Ergonomic office helps reduce employee fatigue

Increasing work efficiency and maintaining the working capacity of employees is in the interest of every employer. In addition, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the employer has to make an effort in maintaining the working capacity of employees. The world is changing, we are changing with it. No one knew about ergonomics before, and for many, the term is still unfamiliar. According to Statistics Estonia, in 2015, approximately 46.5% of the population in Estonia used computers for work. (1) In 2022, this percentage is undoubtedly even higher. Most Estonian companies have not assessed the ergonomics of their workplace. They just work and use available resources as good as they know how to. So, it is no wonder that the employee’s back hurts, his neck is stiff and his hand is cramped.

Is ergonomic more expensive than non-ergonomic?

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders cause various costs for the employer: sick leave benefits, compensation for occupational diseases, loss of income and the costs related to training a new employee. (3) Research shows that in addition to sustainable health effects, an ergonomic workplace contributes to increasing employee productivity, thus increasing company profits. Therefore, an ergonomic tool is not more expensive for the employer than a non-ergonomic one. It is an investment in the sustainability of the company.

Individual workplace design is a requirement

Let’s imagine that Matt and Kate are colleagues and they produce wooden details. Matt is a well-known basketball player in his hometown, he is 198 cm tall. Kate didn’t eat enough porridge as a child and is only 158 cm tall. 2-meter-long Matt and her 1.5-meter colleague Kate cannot work behind the same desk. Also, office chairs of the same height are not suitable for both. Kate’s legs would hang in the air on Matt’s chair, Matt’s knees would be pressed against his chin while sitting on Kate’s chair.Electrically adjustable tables and chairs, as well as footrests, ergonomic computer mice and keyboards, etc. offer modern options for adjusting chairs and tables. Ergonomics means nothing more than compatibility between the employee and the work environment.

A stack of paper under the monitor will help you out of dire straits

In less complicated cases, ergonomic working positions can be designed free of charge. For example, placing a stack of books or printer paper under the monitor will help increase the height of the screen and prevent excessive neck strain. Of course, there are also nicer interior elements than books under the monitor leg. Their price is also a little higher.

How to make your home office more ergonomic?

1. check that the upper edge of the screen is more or less at your eye level (slightly sloping backwards) and the screen is directly in front of you. The distance between you and the screen should be measured by your outstretched hand;

2. it is best for the eyes when natural daylight falls on the side of the screen and screen reflections are minimal;

3. the letter B on the keyboard should be in the middle for correct positioning;

4. table is at the correct height when the keyboard is at the same height as elbows (arms are supported and shoulders are free);

5. computer mouse is near to the keyboard;

6. the office chair should be individually adjustable and have armrests;

7. the height of the chair is correct if the soles reach the ground and there is a right angle between the knees and hips; (4);

8. include a small 5-minute break in each hour; (5);

9. change your sitting and working position often to avoid forced postures and metabolic delays.

What should everyone know?

Both the employee and the employer benefit from Ergonomics. It is pleasant to work in an ergonomic environment and it has a positive influence on productivity. A pleasant and healthy work environment does not just fall from the sky, it must be deliberately designed by the employer. (6) Ergonomics increases profits and makes employees happy. Want more tips on ergonomics? What should movement breaks contain and how to work in the home office? Need support in assessing the work environment and creating an ergonomic work environment? We can help you! Medihub’s occupational physiotherapists are one of the top experts in Estonia in assessing the physiological risk factors and ergonomics of the work environment. Request an offer HERE!

 

References:

  1. Statistics Estonia: Statistical database. 2015. TKU42: EMPLOYEES BY TYPE OF HEALTH RISK AND EMPLOYEES’ CONTACT WITH HEALTH RISKS DURING WORKING TIME. Statistical database
  2. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Ergonomics. https://www.osha.gov/news/testimonies/04272000
  3. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Background of the Cost Estimates. https://www.osha.gov/safetypays/background
  4. Estonian Labour Inspectorate. The ABC of Office Work. 2017. https://www.ti.ee/sites/default/files/dokumendid/Meedia_ja_statistika/Truekised/TI_kontoritoo-ABC_ENG_a5_web.pdf
  5. Kietrys DM, Galper JS, Verno V. Efects of at-work exercises on computer operators. Work. 2007; 28(1):67-75.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6540976_Effects_of_at-work_exercises_on_computer_operators
  6. Mani K. Ergonomics Education for Office Computer Workers: An Evidence-Based Strategy. Work. 2016; 55(4):913-922. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321134910_Ergonomics_Education_for_Office_Computer_Workers_An_Evidence-Based_Strategy