According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018, “there were 900,380 days-away-from-work (DAFW) cases in the U.S. private sector with 272,780 (or 30%) being musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) cases,” which are ergonomic related injuries.
While these numbers depict a stark reality of physical discomfort at work and decreased worker productivity, the silver lining lies in the fact that most ergonomic injuries can be prevented.
The key to unlocking this safety is understanding the nuances of workplace ergonomics and recognizing when an office environment isn’t up to par.
In this article, the ergonomics experts at Solutions Northwest Inc. will delve into the telltale signs that indicate your office might be ergonomically unsound, potentially putting your employees at risk and hampering your organization’s efficiency.
Do Not Ignore Ergonomic Red Flags
It’s important to underscore the broader implications of neglecting ergonomic standards. A staggering statistic from the CDC reveals that one in every four Americans grapples with lower back pain, with a considerable percentage attributed to work-related factors.
Given the real concern about workplace injuries, as highlighted by Solutions Northwest Inc., it’s clear every workplace needs to be proactive about preventing these issues before they start. Proactive ergonomic solutions are not just about physical comfort; they are intrinsically tied to employee productivity. Any compromise in ergonomic standards directly translates to a dip in work efficiency, punctuated by the pain and discomfort employees endure.
Let’s now identify 5 of the telltale signs of an office that may be setting its employees up for discomfort or even injury.
The 5 Signs Your Office is Ergonomically Unsound:
1. Poorly Adjusted Chairs
Considering that the average American worker spends around ten hours each day seated, having a well-adjusted chair to sit in becomes vital. When one’s chair is poorly adjusted, it sets the stage for a cascade of potential health issues.
A chair that’s too high can lead to dangling feet, causing circulatory problems, while one that’s too low can strain the thighs and knees. Armrests not set at the right height can either cause elevated shoulders or provide no support at all, leading to neck and shoulder strain while working. The back support plays a crucial role as well; a lack of proper lumbar support encourages slouching, which over time can cause chronic back pain and musculoskeletal issues for office workers.
When these work-related pains are combined over prolonged periods, not only does it affect the health of the individual, but it also takes a toll on their productivity.
Related article, “6 Benefits of Ergonomic Office Chairs”
2. Strained Neck from Computer Monitors
A critical aspect of office ergonomics is the placement of the computer monitor, which can impact a computer worker’s neck and eyes.
Ideally, your monitor should be positioned directly in front of you, ensuring you don’t have to twist your neck to the right or left, which over time can lead to strain. Distance-wise, the monitor should be an arm’s length away. This distance helps reduce eye strain by keeping the screen at a comfortable viewing range. The top of the screen should align with your eyes, promoting a natural, horizontal gaze.
A poorly adjusted monitor might seem like a minor inconvenience, but over prolonged periods, it can escalate into chronic pain for office workers or cumulative trauma injuries. Simple ergonomic adjustments can significantly alleviate these risks, enhancing comfort and productivity.
Related article, “The Ergonomic Way to View Your Monitor”
3. Workers Are Not Taking Enough Breaks
Some folks may think skipping regular breaks is helpful, but recent research has shown that it is detrimental to productivity. Furthermore, it also poses serious health risks to workers.
The human body is designed for movement, and being stationary for extended periods can lead to muscle stiffness, poor circulation, and metabolic health issues. Moreover, skipping breaks can exacerbate mental fatigue, reducing an individual’s cognitive abilities, concentration, and creativity. By simply standing, stretching, or taking a short walk, employees can reinvigorate their muscles, boost blood circulation, and alleviate mental stress for workers.
It is essential for every office to integrate breaks into the work routine, not just for enhancing efficiency and creativity, but also for safeguarding one’s physical and mental well-being of workers.
Related article, “3 Free Apps That Remind You Take Breaks From Work”
4. Keyboard and Mouse Placement Issues
Improper keyboard and mouse placement is a leading cause of wrist and hand strain among desk workers. Using a mouse and keyboard repeatedly, especially in non-ergonomic positions, can intensify the risk of wrist pain and other related health issues, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The right placement ensures that your wrists are straight, reducing the need for excessive twisting, straining, or stretching. Proper ergonomic equipment can greatly boost comfort, posture, and productivity. Ensure optimal positioning with ergonomic equipment, and consider an ergonomics assessment by experts, like those at Solutions Northwest Inc., to avoid potential health risks and promote a comfortable working environment.
Related article, “5 Benefits of Using an Ergonomic Mouse and Keyboard
5. Your Office Has Never Performed an Ergonomic Assessment
When employees voice concerns about discomfort at their workstations, it’s often a sign that the work environment isn’t ergonomically optimized. An ergonomics assessment provides a comprehensive evaluation of workplace setups, ensuring that workstations are tailored to individual employee needs, ultimately fostering a safer and more comfortable environment.
Ergonomic assessments are usually performed an ergonomics expert that has been trained to scrutinize critical factors in the office, such as monitor heights—which influence neck strain—mouse placements that prevent undue wrist strain, and back support crucial for preventing prevalent issues like back pain.
Moreover, a well-structured workplace designed through ergonomics consulting can significantly increase productivity, decrease absenteeism due to health concerns, and bolster overall morale. Employees working in ergonomically designed workspaces not only exhibit better focus and efficiency but also feel more valued.
Reducing workplace injuries not only results in financial savings but also enhances operational efficiency and boosts morale, leading to a positive workplace culture and increased productivity.
Related article: “Benefits of Conducting an In-Person Ergonomics Assessment”
What to Do Next If Your Office is Ergonomically Unsound
In the modern office, the significance of workplace ergonomics cannot be overstated. From preventing musculoskeletal disorders to boosting overall productivity, a well-designed ergonomic workplace plays a pivotal role in ensuring both employee health and organizational success. While recognizing the signs of an ergonomically unsound office is the first step, addressing these concerns with a professional ergonomic assessment is the key to fostering a safer, more productive workspace.
For a quarter of a century, Solutions Northwest Inc. has championed the cause of ergonomic excellence in Seattle, Portland, and Olympia, WA – assisting countless businesses in creating healthier and more efficient workspaces. If you’ve spotted any of the red flags mentioned in this article in your office or are just looking to optimize your workspace for the better, don’t delay. Entrust your ergonomic needs to our seasoned ergonomic consultants, who bring both expertise and a passion for creating comfortable work environments.
Not based in the Pacific Northwest or need help with remote workers? Consider our Virtual Ergonomics Assessment available nationwide, a solution is always within reach.
Don’t compromise on your staff’s well-being and the overall efficiency of your workspace. Contact Solutions Northwest Inc. today and elevate your office environment. For ongoing insights and ergonomics tips, consider subscribing to our blog. Remember, a healthier office is just a consultation away!