Computers have fundamentally transformed the way we phsyically work. Before the age of computers, office workers' activities were much more varied – from writing out documents longhand to getting up and going to a coworker's desk instead of emailing. Essentially, computers have made office workers' daily tasks much more repetitive.
Unfortunately, this has created unprecedented ergonomic challenges and led to the high rate of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that is sapping U.S. businesses of productivity – MSDs are costing U.S. businesses hundreds of millions of dollars in lost working hours each year.
Fortunately, much of this lost productivity is avoidable simply by creating a better ergonomic environment in the workplace. Organizations can reduce the risk of MSDs through better office design and the procurement of ergonomically sound tools, workstations, equipment and controls. This lowers the risk of MSDs while improving productivity and reducing costs related to workers' compensation claims.
Many organizations across the U.S. are achieving results through ergonomics, and there are many more that could if they would implement an ergonomics workplace program. The following are six tips to consider:
- Assess your needs. Make sure your ergonomics program addresses the specific needs of your employees, based on the way they work.
- Automate repetitive tasks. Where possible, automate repetitive tasks, such as record-keeping and tracking, to help reduce MSDs.
- Call in the experts. Hire professionals with ergonomics experience to perform workspace assessments to identify potential problem areas and propose solutions that fit your needs and budget, such as a Certified Industrial Ergonomist (CIE), Certified Associate Ergonomist (CAE), or Certified Human Factors Engineering Professional (CHFEP).
- Train your employees. Ergonomic equipment will only help if it is used correctly. Make sure your employees are trained in usage and best practices.
- Take a holistic approach. Don't just focus on the equipment; include environmental controls in your ergonomics program to ensure that ambient factors such as noise, light and temperature support employees' comfort and health.
The benefits of an ergonomic office can have a significant bottom-line impact on a business, while also raising employee morale.