Ergonomic Designs in the Workplace
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When you’re working it’s important that you’re safe and comfortable. That way, you’ll be more productive and you’ll avoid risk of injury. Company health and safety documents should describe what your company is doing to protect you whilst you’re working and your training should have shown you how to protect yourself. For example, we all know that we should lift with our knees and keep our back straight, and that we should pay attention to our posture when we’re sitting at a desk. Of course, it’s best if office furnishings and pieces of equipment have been designed and purchased with comfort and safety in mind. Here are a few of the best ergonomic designs for the modern workplace:
Ergonomic Office Chair
These might not look good, but they’re good for your posture. Still, they can take a little getting used to. Ergonomic chairs are typically high-backed, with an inward curve that matches the natural curvature of the spine (whether you realised that your back should bend like that, or not). We’re not made to sit down all day, and so a good chair is one of the best ways to ensure that our bodies don’t suffer from our lack of movement. Good ergonomic chairs have lots of little levers and dials to help you to adjust the shape to suit your needs.
You might not even have considered how you use a tablet, but with tablet computers becoming even more popular they’re now a common workplace addition. More and more people are sitting at their desk whilst they use a tablet, and most have their tablet flat on the desk which means that they’re leaning forward, arched over it, with their head tilted down. Over time, that can cause shoulder strains and neck pains. Instead, a tablet stand can allow you to set your tablet at a 45° angle rather than a 90° angle, which means that it’s easy to see what’s on the screen and interact with your tablet whilst sitting up straight.
When we use a traditional computer mouse, we’re using our wrist to control the movement. Wrists end up moving in all sorts of ways that can cause RSI or carpal tunnel syndrome. We also tend to grip the mouse in a way that puts pressure on our thumb and on our wrist joint.
Various ergonomic mouse designs have been produced to help you to use a mouse more comfortably. Some have bigger indents for fingers and thumbs to reduce the pressure and to allow our hand to rest in a more natural shape, whilst others are vertical mice controlled more by the elbow than the wrist, which allows more natural movement. The AirO2bic mouse is the world’s first completely ‘gripless’ mouse, and can be controlled whilst the hand is completely at rest.
Sitting down can put a lot of pressure on your thighs, as they’re typically pressed against the chair at all times. Ideally your feet should be higher so that your thighs aren’t pressing against the seat of your chair. A foot rest can raise your feet off the ground, allowing you to sit in a position that is more comfortable for longer periods of time. Most ergonomic foot rests also have height and angle adjustment options.
Which ergonomic workplace products do you use? Do you suffer from pain or discomfort as a result of working in an office or carrying heavy objects? Comment and share your opinion.
David Wilson researches the latest ergonomic furniture designs and tests them in office environments in an effort to improve comfort and safety in the workplace.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.