Ergonomic Tips for Workplace Safety and Wellness (Updated for 2021)

Historically, more than ever, there are now more adults sitting than in any other time in the past. According to the American Heart Association, jobs that entail sitting in one’s desk a majority of the time has increased 83% since the 1950s. This means that more and more sedentary-type of jobs are created and are taken on by the working population. On the other hand, jobs that involve having to be physically active only compose around 20 percent of the workforce according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Health Risks: Why Do We Need To Concern Ourselves With All Of These?

A study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2018 revealed that there is a high incidence of people spending most of their time sitting with low levels of engagement in physical activities. Statistics showed that among adults, 1 in 4 spend more than 8 hours of their day sitting, while 4 in 10 adults are physically inactive, and 1 in 10 adults fall under both categories.

In the same study, they found that if you engage in a high number of sedentary activities and have little to no physical activity, you expose yourself to an increased risk of premature mortality and several chronic diseases. 

Researches have indicated that long periods of sitting have been linked to obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and irregular cholesterol levels.

Tips And Guide: What Are The Things I Can Do To Improve My Office-Related Health And Wellness?

With the health risks associated with this kind of work, researchers have made numerous studies to develop ways and means to improve wellness and safety for people in the workforce. Thus, workplace ergonomics was developed as a field of study. 

Workplace ergonomics is the science of workplace designing that suits the workers’ capabilities and limitations. It keeps in mind that a poor working environment would lead to unproductive, overworked, and drained work personnel. 

To avoid becoming overworked, unproductive, and fatigued, here are some tips and guidelines to enhance wellness, safety, and health at work, or home, for those with work-from-home arrangements because of the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Keep a neutral posture while sitting at work.

In the context of health and wellness, a neutral position is a way of keeping your body relaxed while in your workstation so that stress on your muscles, tendons and skeletal system is minimized. It also maintains alignment in your joints. In this manner, the risk of an employee developing a musculoskeletal disorder is minimized and there is an increase in range of motion.

Below is a list of six ergonomic ways of maintaining proper posture:

Nowadays, many companies have turned to provide sit-stand workstations or standing workstations for their employees. This gives leeway for workers to switch from sitting down and standing up while working on their tasks. Keeping a neutral position while standing is also encouraged. This is to keep your body relaxed and not put undue stress on your muscles and bones. Here are the steps to retain neutral position while standing.

2. Your office tools and equipment should be designed to give you a comfortable working space.

Most of your adult life will be spent working and there is a big chance that it will be in an office cubicle. You will need your workspace to help you achieve your work related tasks and not develop back pains, shoulder pains, painful joints, or sore fingers and wrists instead.

The key to a comfortable and relaxed work space is the execution of a proper work space design and utilization of correct office equipment and tools. Here are some tips and guidelines on the equipment and tools, along with their proper usage.

Ergonomics For Laptop Users

With the global health crisis that we are facing, many companies who have the capacity to do so have moved their operations online, or have given their employees the option to work from home. This is one way to help contain the COVID-19 virus and prevent their employees from contracting the disease while at work.

Employees who are working from home have the comfort of their homes for their office. However, the majority of these employees who are in a work from home arrangement are using laptops that have pressing ergonomic problems associated with them.

We all know what a laptop looks like. The monitor and keyboard are attached to each other, so you cannot make adjustments to either one of them. Either the keyboard is too high, which puts your wrists at risk, or, the monitor is too low, exposing you to the risking of developing neck pain. 

Thus, to guarantee that such employees still follow guidelines for safety and wellness while working with laptops and tablets, the following are a few reminders:

The goal here is to maintain a neutral position by following guidelines provided above even if you are working at home.

Move: We Shouldn’t Be Sitting All Day.

Even if you follow all the tips and guidelines to make your workplace ergonomic, you still need to move away from your desk from time to time. Why is this so? 

We have already discussed the effects of spending so much time sitting down. Now, analysis of different studies have shown that the effects of extended sitting is countered by spending at least 60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity. Therefore, you need more movement to better your health.

The question is, how can you incorporate movement while working?

The 20-8-2 Rule for Movement while Working

Dr. Alan Hedge, a professor of ergonomics at Cornell University, came up with the 20-8-2 rule which he called the “ideal work pattern”. This rule is very easy to do and follow. For every 30 minutes you spend at work, you need to allow 20 minutes of sitting, 8 minutes for standing, and 2 minutes for stretching or moving around.

When you have the chance to move or walk, please do so. Or, better yet, find ways how to incorporate walking and moving while at work.

Conclusion

Spending too much time sitting at work can take a toll on your health. The study of ergonomics has developed ways and means to create a safe and healthy workplace environment. However, that is not the only key to achieve wellness and health while working. We need to incorporate moving around or engage in physical activities to counter the ill-effects of extended sitting.

Disclaimer:

If you are experiencing health issues such as obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat, and irregular cholesterol levels, please consult a medical health professional. Do not attempt to self-diagnose and self-medicate by following only the tips and guidelines stated on this article and neglecting to visit your doctor. This article is written only to provide general information on basic ergonomics for your workplace.

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