Monday, August 29, 2016

Seven Steps to Creating an Ergonomic-Rich Working Environment - Guest Blog

by Carissa Harris, Marketing Communications Coordinator, Sovella, Inc.

In Carissa’s first Guest Blog for the Q Source Resource, she focuses on how you can create an ergonomic workspace.


Proper ergonomics play a vital role in workplace productivity.
When it comes to productivity and efficiency in the workplace, proper ergonomics play a vital role. A workplace that focuses on the well-being of their employees will find an increase in their output, leading to greater profit. Ergonomics is about more than just posture and arm reach. It takes into consideration all aspects of a worker’s movement, eyesight, noise level, and more. By having all components and areas in easy reach and at comfortable distances, it minimizes the amount of bending, twisting, and reaching workers need to make, and consequently reduces strain, stress, and discomfort, leading to a more relaxed positions and greater efficiency.

Here are seven steps that can guide you in creating an ergonomic-rich environment at your company:
  1. Research and Develop a Plan of Action – Implementing a proper, ergonomic workplace requires research into the correct products for your company and your employees. Understanding the fundamentals of ergonomics will help when it comes time to selecting the best products for your environment. Creating a plan of action ahead of time will also reduce the risk of purchasing products that will not benefit employees in the long-term. It can be beneficial to look to other companies with ergonomic environments and see how you might replicate their successes.
  2. Conduct Interviews with Employees and Observe Their Behaviors – To see where you have fallen short in the past, conduct interviews with employees and review any prior injury reports. This will provide the insight into the current problems and assist you in purchasing the right equipment in the future. Some risk factors in ergonomic-poor workspaces include: awkward postures, over-exertion, straining eyes, poor ventilation, and improper lighting. These can lead to worker injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle cramping, slipped discs, and tendinitis. Understanding these risks and injuries will lead to better purchasing decisions and happier staff.
  3. Gather the Team – Getting everyone on board will make the transition to ergonomics smoother and quicker. Employees will be open to the change when they are informed of the benefits, including less stress and strain.
  4. Consider the Not-So-Obvious
    • Should employees be sitting or standing for their particular work? Or given the option for both? Tasks with little lifting or reaching may benefit from sitting with the option to stand, while jobs that require heavy-lifting, continuous movement, or parts retrieval will benefit from standing with the option to rest. Height-adjustable benches and proper seating are essential.
    • Is the bench surface correctly positioned and does it cater to various heights? Body size and leg space are factors to consider.
    • Which style of chair is best? Comfort and adjustability are important in choosing the best chair for the job. A chair that is ergonomic will be adjustable to accommodate all body types.
    • Are the monitors in the correct position? Consider viewing angle and distance. Screens should be well lit and in focus to prevent strain on the eyes.
    • How does lighting affect work? Shadows, brightness, even color of light can affect the well-being of employees. Proper lighting can prevent headaches and fatigue.
    • Consider keyboard distance, reach distance for tools, placement of equipment, ventilation, etc. Managers should also encourage good posture and breaks to avoid strain, tension, and fatigue, as well as stretching. Remember, all employees are not created alike, and body type should be taken into account.
  5. Be Sure Vendors Can Meet Your Ergonomic Needs – Choose furniture that can be properly adjusted and explore customizations to best suit your employees. Vendors should be able to demonstrate the functionalities, calculate benefits, and give references. Think about long-term use, and pick a sustainable option. Select a vendor that provides the best solution in a timely manner, with the best support.
  6. Happiness is the Goal – Quality workspaces make for happier employees. If they feel better, they will perform better, in turn boosting your productivity and profitability. Ergonomic-rich environments have employees that take fewer sick days, report fewer injuries, and are over-all more satisfied.
  7. Measure and Improve – Understand how employing ergonomics has improved productivity, reduced injuries, and created a happier staff. Compare output before and after, and survey your employees to determine any improvement and increased happiness. It is important to evaluate the workplace and make improvements as needed. By continuing to improve, you will continue to develop a better system that continues to function and produce at the highest possible level, founded upon proper, modern ergonomics.
An ergonomic-friendly workstation project takes an initial investment of research time, budget, customization, and more, but turns those investments into an opportunity for business growth. By using baseline data and key performance indicators (KPIs) to analyze your investment decision (both before and after), you’ll be able to justify the effect ergonomics has on employees and their work. You can also start small and increase investments with proven results paving the way to continue.

Great tips, Carissa! Thank you for providing a solid plan to implement ergonomics into the working environment. We look forward to learning more about the topic and how Sovella can assist in such an implementation.

For information about Sovella ergonomic workspace products, or to place an order, please visit QSource.com. You may also contact us via email or phone at 800-966-6020 and we will be happy to assist you.

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