Ergonomics (also known as human factors) is the science of designing objects and environments so that they properly fit the individual using them. Researchers in ergonomics use scientific methods to study how an individual interacts with objects in his or her environment. They then redesign those objects and that environment to improve each individual’s working situation.
The particular method that ergonomics employs depends on what researchers are studying. For instance, ergonomics can look at physical factors that affect individuals at work.
Physical factors involve studying human anatomy to better understand how muscles and bone alignments function while using equipment. For example, poorly designed furniture can force an individual to lie down or sit in an unnatural posture, which eventually leads to problems like back pain. To prevent such problems, physical ergonomics helps us design comfortable, ergonomic furniture.
How to Improve Ergonomics in the Workplace
Since many of us spend a lot of time at work, improving ergonomics in the workplace brings many noticeable benefits. Applying ergonomics will transform the workplace into a more relaxing, productive and healthy environment.
For office jobs that entail sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, an ergonomic desk height will relieve workers from turning or lowering their heads to unnatural positions, thereby preventing neck and back strain. Similar improvements could be made for workers who use computers on a regular basis. Typing and other repetitive tasks can eventually result in a repetitive strain injury when they are not performed using an ergonomic computer workstation.
Complete your own ergonomic assessment and improve workplace ergonomics with these tips:
- For your legs, do not leave your feet dangling. When you sit down, ensure that your feet rest on the floor and do not dangle above it. Use a footstool or footrest if you cannot lower the chair.
- For your arms, support the forearms. Supporting the weight of your arms helps relax your neck and shoulders. To help support your arm weight, consider using forearm supports, which place the hands into a proper typing position.
- For your back, sit properly and do not slouch. Use chairs that support good posture, especially at computer workstations, where typing for hours at a time is common. Also, do not slouch. Many ergonomic studies suggest that slightly leaning back is better for lower back support than sitting perfectly upright and leaning forward.
- For your neck, avoid leaning forward. Always keep your head positioned in line with the neck, and avoid leaning your head forward. Place the computer monitor right in front of your line of vision.
- For your eyes, avoid digital eyestrain. Too much light coming directly into your eyes can lead to digital eyestrain, so make sure your monitor is about an arm’s length in distance from your head, and do not set the brightness of the screen too high.
- For your whole body, take breaks. Do not forget to take regular breaks throughout the workday whenever possible, even if they are short ones.