1. (used with a sing. verb) The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort. Also called biotechnology, human engineering, human factors engineering.
2. (used with a pl. verb) Design factors, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by minimizing operator fatigue and discomfort:
When it comes to ergonomic design (also known as user-centric design) your Kent or London office refurbishment involves adapting the workspace to meet workers needs rather than workers having to work around the design.
So Why Should Ergonomic Design Be Important To Kent and London Businesses?
According to the most recent UK health and safety statistics published by the health and safety executive (HSE) (PDF) in 2017/2018, there were 469,000 recorded cases of workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders and 6.6 million lost working days (Labour Force Survey).
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have reported that lower back pain and upper extremity muscular skeletal disorders (neck or shoulder pain) accounts for 31 percent of all occupational health injuries today. They have also shown that businesses who implement ergonomic design within the workplace show a 34% lowering in employee turnover and a drop of 72% in lost work days.
You may think that issues such as lower back pain and neck or shoulder pain only happen in manual jobs however this is not the case. In fact office workers are one of the main contributors to the statistics on work-related musculoskeletal disorders of which sitting at a desk, typing and staring at a monitor are the main causes. If your office is not ergonomically designed your office staff may suffer from musculoskeletal disorders leading to health issues and time off.
A very well known example of office based repetitive strain injury is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS), a condition in which the median nerve is compressed where it passes through a short tunnel at the wrist. This leads to hand and fingers pain, tingling or numbness and may also be associated with pain in the wrist and forearm. The prevalence of CTS in the UK is 7–16%. A UK General Practice Research Database found that 88 men and 193 women present as new cases per 100,000 population, per year.
Kent and London Office Design and the Benefits of Ergonomics
Clearly ergonomics can play a major role in a business’s productivity and bottom line. It therefore makes sense to take ergonomics into account when it comes to designing your next office refurbishment.
An ergonomically well-designed office space will help reduce office injuries including: muscle strain and pain (including lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain); repetitive strain injuries including CTS and eye strain.
It will also help reduce time off and increase productivity and quality of work.
How Do You Make Your Kent and London Office More Ergonomic?
Today there are even more people who spend time sitting at a desk, looking at a monitor screen as part of their day to day routine and requirement to get their job done.
Over the years it’s become apparent that there is an on-going need to combat work-related musculoskeletal disorders and other office injuries by ensuring that ill-supporting furniture and poorly setup monitors and office layouts are a thing of the past.
Many companies are investing in ergonomic office refurbishments which look to address the primary workplace ergonomic risk factors (PDF) which include task repetition, awkward postures and forceful exertions.
By taking the time to look at your businesses work processes and everyday (and repetitive) tasks that involve the risk factors outlined above you can minimise likely issues by putting in place good ergonomic design which addresses these risk factors.
When we talk about ergonomics some of the first things that come to mind are things like office furniture, seating and desks; as well as ergonomic keyboards etc. Below we look at some of the ways you can make an office more ergonomic.
Ergonomic Office Furniture
One of the first things that a business should look to do is to invest in ergonomic furniture which is specifically designed to support the lower back and helps the user maintain good posture.
The UK HSE have published guidance on how to ensure workplace seating is safe and suitable for all http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg57.pdf . The guide explains how employers need to consider the needs of the individual, the type of work being carried out and the dimensions of the workstation. It goes onto explain the “simple basic checks to ensure that seating is safe and suitable”. These include asking the following questions:
- Is the chair comfortable for the intended period of use?
- Is the lower back adequately supported?
- Is the upholstery sufficiently supportive and comfortable?
- Are edges sufficiently padded and shaped to prevent uncomfortable pressure on the thighs?
- Does the chair have adequate types and ranges of adjustment?
- Is the height adjustable to allow work to be carried out at or below elbow height?
- Does the backrest adjust sufficiently in height and depth to allow the user to gain support?
- Are armrests suitable for the task and workstation?
- Do the armrests allow the user to bring the chair far enough forward?
- Do the armrests allow adequate arm movement?
- Are footrests required and, if so, are they suitable?
- Are there special requirements for a chair at this particular workstation?
- Are there special user requirements?
- Are there special task requirements?
It’s also important to remember one chair doesn’t fit everyone. An “ergonomic chair” is designed to suit a range of people; however, there is no guarantee that it will suit everyone in the office. In addition, just because a chair is labelled ergonomic it may not suit every task or work with every workstation. A chair only becomes ergonomic when it suits a user’s body dimensions and weight, their workstation, and the tasks they need to perform.
Once you have found your ideal chair the next step is to look at desk height. When properly seated you should be able to maintain a forearm-to-upper arm angle between 70 degrees and 135 degrees. Most work surfaces fall within 28″ to 30″, which is a good sitting height for most people between 5’8″ and 5’10” tall. However these are just estimates. You should be prepared to change your work surface height to suit your individual needs.
Screen Glare and Height
Making sure computer monitors are correctly positioned is also important. A poorly positioned monitor can lead to a variety of issues including neck and back pain and eye strain.
Here are some simple steps you can take to correctly position your monitor:
- Place or angle the monitor away from glare. Reflected glare from lights and windows can lead to eye strain.
- Have the monitor directly in front of you. This should prevent users having to twist their head and neck to look at the screen.
- The top of the monitor the screen should be at eye level or about 2” to 3” slightly below eye level.
- The monitor should be at least an arm’s length away but should also allow users to clearly read the screen without bending the head or neck forward or backward.
Done well, an ergonomically designed office can be a key contributor to your company’s competitiveness in the marketplace and provide a better work experience for your staff.
You can use the Blitz Results site to calculate the optimal height of your desks, chairs and even standing desks.