Prioritizing Your Health and Productivity: A Guide to Workplace Ergonomics

Do you ever experience discomfort or pain when working at your desk? Or find that you’re not as productive as you could be? If so, it’s time to prioritize workplace ergonomics.

Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their physical and social environments, and when applied to workplaces, it means designing jobs to fit the worker to optimize employee well-being and overall performance.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how workplace ergonomics can improve your health and productivity, and provide tips on how to set up your workspace for optimal comfort and efficiency.

The Benefits of Workplace Ergonomics:

An ergonomic workplace can bring a wide range of benefits to both employees and companies. Not only does it improve employee health and well-being, but it also reduces absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims, enhances a company’s reputation and culture, and ultimately saves on costs.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, total workers’ compensation claims costs included $4.7 billion for awkward postures and $1.7 billion for repetitive motions involving microtasks, such as typing.

“We know that ergonomics in the workplace can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain,” explains PTS’ Tony Schupp, PT, DPT and Director of Outpatient Therapy Services. He adds, “These ailments often result from repetitive motions or poor posture at work. Ergonomic workplace design can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries.”

Furthermore, a workplace that prioritizes ergonomics may see a decrease in work-related injuries or illnesses. Having healthy employees means fewer unexpected absences and workers’ compensation claims. A commitment to the health and safety of its employees at an organizational level may improve employee morale and attract top talent.

How Can We Improve Ergonomics in Office Settings?

Create a comfortable workstation by utilizing:

  • A chair with adjustable height and backrest
  • A desk that allows for proper placement of the keyboard and mouse
    • Ergonomic keyboards and mice designed to reduce strain on the hands and wrists to help prevent repetitive use injuries
  • A computer monitor that can be adjusted for height and distance 
  • A standing desk to help reduce the negative health effects associated with prolonged sitting

Set up your workstation properly:

  • Adjust your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at a 90-degree angle
  • Your desk should be at a height that allows your forearms to be parallel to the ground when typing 
  • Your monitor should be positioned so that the top of the screen is at eye level, and you should be able to read it without tilting your head

Maintain proper sitting posture and positioning: 

  • Your back should be straight and your shoulders should be relaxed 
  • Your arms should rest comfortably on the armrests or the desk
  • Your wrists should be straight when typing 
  • Take breaks and stretch to prevent discomfort and injury

Test Your Knowledge of Ergonomic Design with this Quick Quiz:

1. What is ergonomics?

a) The study of how people interact with their physical and social environments

b) The study of how to make workplaces look cool

c) The study of how to increase productivity

2. What are the benefits of workplace ergonomics?

a) Improved employee health and well-being

b) Reduced absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims

c) Enhanced company reputation and culture

d) All of the above

3. What is the recommended height for a computer monitor?

a) Below eye level

b) At eye level

c) Above eye level

Answer Key: 1. a, 2. d, 3. b

What Role Can Physical Therapy Play? 

Physical therapy can help you reduce the risk of musculoskeletal injury by identifying your strengths and limitations. Physical therapists can customize an exercise program or make equipment recommendations to make your workday more comfortable. If you experience an injury due to poor office ergonomics, our Doctors of Physical Therapy are here to help evaluate and treat your aches and pains. PTS therapists are also available to visit workplaces to conduct ergonomic assessments. Call 309-231-0676 or request an appointment.

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