THE COST OF ERGONOMICS
Let’s get right down to business! The goal of this blog is to help you see that office ergonomics is a great business decision and not an unnecessary cost.
I know these are some fighting words but trust me they hold their own!
Disclaimer: We aren’t going to take the scare tactic approach. We won’t tell you that 1 in 10 Canadian workers are affected by repetitive strain injuries, back pain due to office work leads to absenteeism, or that the cost of preventable work related injuries has a lot of 0’s attached to it. Why? Purely because we have enough of that is going on in this world right now!
Instead it will be a very pleasant read that will take you through two very realistic scenarios. This will let you decide the true cost of office ergonomics. Please keep in mind that although cost is usually a word associated with money try to broaden your definition to time, well-being and job satisfaction.
In both of these scenarios, the people are healthy, no previous injuries, the same height (5’11 feet), and the average weight. They work the same 8-hour office job and they type a lot! Picture an average Joe or Josette.
An ergonomist went to their office to see what could be changed to make their set ups ergonomic friendly and give them tips to limit the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
Here are the changes they were told to implement right away:
- Take breaks throughout the day
- Limit your time in one position
- Type less forcefully
- Ergonomic chair – to be able to adjust the armrest and back support properly.
- Monitor riser – To be able to raise it high enough to be slightly below their eyes.
Joe/Josette #1 wasn’t really keen on having Karen the ergonomist come tell her how she should work. What really threw it off was when Karen wanted her/him to take a break!
Joe/Josette #1 has the mindset that breaks are a waste of the companies and a detriment to my productivity. So she/he put a big X on this ergonomics thing. She/he did not listen to the suggestions and kept working in less than favorable positions without any breaks.
A year after this lovely assessment, Joe/Josette #1 found herself enjoying her/his work less, and feeling discomfort in her/his upper limbs. When asked by HR why she wasn’t enjoying her/his work as much, the answer was pretty simple. Joe/Josette #1’s discomfort would increase throughout the week, making him/her less able to focus on work (decrease in productivity) and not be able to enjoy playing tennis or garden with her/his husband during the weekends due to the discomfort.
WOW!! Interesting turn of events, isn’t it!
Let’s check on Joe/Josette #2!
Joe/Josette #2 was ecstatic that Karen the ergonomist was taking the time to assess her/his workplace. She/he held on to every word Karen was spitting out. She/he started taking breaks more regularly, even if it was just for 20 seconds to let the eyes relax a bit. You can say that Joe/Josette #2 went by the book and would not stay in the same position for too long. She/he also went from typing like an elephant to typing like a mouse.
Joe/Josette #2 got a new chair and monitor riser since the features on her current chair and monitor riser didn’t do what Karen wanted. This resulted in Joe/Josette #2 to be able to rest her/his forearms comfortably, alleviate some pressure around her neck, get the back support she/he needed.
A year a later… Joe/ Josette #2 was still loving her/his job and sending long witty emails to her co-workers.
This is just scratching the surface of the endless benefits office ergonomics and what the right products for you can do!
For those who are here and reading till the end, the scenarios included a compilation of results of scientific research… tricked you! If you want to read the research in scientific terms check out the reference section.
I hope you enjoyed this blog and have a new understanding of office ergonomics!
Amick, B. C., Menéndez, C. C., Bazzani, L., Robertson, M., DeRango, K., Rooney, T., & Moore, A. (2012). A field intervention examining the impact of an office ergonomics training and a highly adjustable chair on visual symptoms in a public sector organization. Applied Ergonomics, 43(3), 625–631. doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2011.09.006
Blasche, G., Szabo, B., Wagner-Menghin, M., Ekmekcioglu, C., & Gollner, E. (2018). Comparison of rest-break interventions during a mentally demanding task. Stress and Health. doi:10.1002/smi.2830
Delisle, A., Larivière, C., Plamondon, A., & Imbeau, D. (2006). Comparison of three computer office workstations offering forearm support: impact on upper limb posture and muscle activation. Ergonomics, 49(2), 139–160. https://doi.org/10.1080/10610270500450739