Ergonomics is a process of designing a product and arranging an environment or system to make it fit/healthy for its user. Now, most of us have heard about this term “workplace ergonomics” in our offices and we think it is related to our chair position. But actually, its much more than that, it is about making our workplace better for us so that it doesn’t affect our health. It includes the furniture that we have, lighting we have at our workplace, the way we sit and stand and more importantly how we behave.
Yes, whether you are moving and stretching in between your work also affects your health.
In current situation, when most of us are working on our laptops, this has become a major concern. Companies are spending so much money on workplace ergonomics to ensure that their employees get maximum comfort in terms of good chair and other facilities like in-office gym, zumba and yoga classes. But none of this will work if we ourselves are not aware of what exactly are we dealing with.
In this article, we will discuss briefly about the problems that can be a result of poor ergonomics and then over the things that should be followed at healthy workplace to avoid these problems.
Major Problems Caused by Poor Workplace Ergonomics:
Sitting for long periods of time or wrong sitting posture can cause cumulative trauma. Sometimes, we are so much engaged in our work that we totally forget about our posture. Slouching on back of your chair can cause many problems including permanent damage to your spine.
We have seen people walking around with their back slightly bent and shoulders down, well, that can be a result of poor ergonomics at work. Or you might already suffer from some back issue and poor ergonomics can just make it worse.
Migraine and headaches:
Headaches caused by poor lighting conditions at workplaces are very common. Brightness of your screen also has to be proper, not too dim not too bright. Poor light can cause itching and burning in eyes and other problems like indigestion, nausea and blurred vision.Wrong sitting posture apply strain or stress to the muscles, fascia, and ligaments in the back and neck, causing extreme pain in neck, shoulder, forehead or temples.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs):
Musculoskeletal system includes the joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons, and structures that support limbs, neck and back. These disorders are mostly seen in people who have moving jobs like lifting heavy weights. These injuries may include numbness, tingling and sharp pain in any of these parts. In serious cases, it can affect mobility and even cause partial paralysis.Other common problem is the inflammation or irritation of tendons, often caused by incorrect posture.
A well-functioning respiratory system is the basis of well-being of the whole body. Any deterioration of the respiratory function decreases oxygen saturation of human cells, affecting not only the physical, but also the mental condition. A number of research studies have confirmed the impact of body posture on the respiratory system, chest and diaphragm mobility, as well as on the number and quality of inhalations and exhalations. Posture affects the performance of the diaphragm as the main human respiratory muscle. Under physiological conditions, the diaphragm falls during inhalation and rises during exhalation. An inclined position prevents proper functioning of this muscle, resulting in increased activity of the upper respiratory duct.
Workplace Ergonomics includes following points:
- Sit comfortably, your feet should be on the ground and your thighs should be parallel to ground.
- Hands should rest on the table with your elbows and shoulder perpendicular to each other.
- Back support is very important. You should not feel any strain in your back and try to sit straight. Invest in a good chair if you are working from home.
Use an extra footrest if required, to ensure your posture is correct.
- Avoid direct reflection of light from you screen. Best is when the light source is above you, that way it will not cause any glare.
- Also, maintain the brightness of your monitor as per the light around you. Too dim or too bright screen can cause extra strain on your eyes.
- Screen should be at or slightly below your eye level to minimize the strain on eyes.
- It should be approximately at one arm distance from you.
- Keep everything on your desk (phone, files, stationary) at a reachable distance, so that you don’t have to strain yourself to get to it.
You should take care of following points as a part of workplace ergonomics when you are working for longer period of times:
In between breaks:
- Take a 2 minutes break after every 30 minutes to give your eyes some rest and take few sips of water if possible.
- Take a 10 minutes break in every 2 – 2.5 hours and stretch a little. This will relax your tensed muscles and help you in working for longer hours.
Talk to neighbors:
- Chilling out is as important as working hard. Make sure you have a healthy work environment and people around are treating you well.
- Move around your area for few minutes and try to move your focus as well. For few minutes think about something other than the work you are doing.
- No matter how much work you have and how close is the deadline, don’t forget this point. Drink as much water as possible.
- Even of you are not feeling thirsty, make it a habit to have a few sips. And once it becomes a habit, you will automatically start feeling thirsty.
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