A person should work in harmony with the environment he works in to bring about his or her optimum productivity and promote his long-term well-being. This general principle is what drives ergonomics in advocating for a worker-friendly designed office or work environment. It is concerned with the fit or appropriateness between the user, equipment and their environments. User interaction with the equipment and workplace must be designed to fit the user.
Ergonomics prevents musculoskeletal injuries such as back pain through proper workstation setup that reduces physical and mental stress to the worker. Through optimizing the physical setup of your workstation and the equipment you use, you can reduce your chances of injuries or prevent them altogether.
How to Take Advantage of Ergonomics
An ergonomic workstation will help avoid many potentially harmful situations that lead to back injury. The following may be done towards this end:
- Arrange or lay your work out so you can sit or stand comfortably in a position that does not put stress on any specific area of your body like your back.
- Keep the workstation and the tools you use within your reach without having to frequently twist at the waist, bend, or lean.
- Choose workstation equipment or tools that fit your personal physical and comfort needs, such as:
- The top should be about elbow height. Too low desk surfaces can cause you to hunch your shoulder.
- Choose a desk with plenty of room for your legs and thighs to comfortably fit under the desk.
- Position it about arm’s length. Too far away will let you lean forward.
- Position it directly in front of you so that your head, neck, and torso all face the same direction.
- Move or position the backrest to support your lower back.
- The backrest should be set so that the back of your knees do not touch the edge of the seat.
- The height should be set so that the feet rest flat on the floor, your thighs parallel to the floor, with your knees bent at 90-degree angle.
The chair provides crucial support to your lower back and special attention must be given on the choice of the right chair. Some features that are necessary are:
- Adjustability– The seat height must be adjustable.
- Seat height range– The seat height must be adjustable for tall or short workers.
- Backrest– The backrest must be adjustable vertically and in the frontward and backward directions. It must have a firm lumbar support.
- Seat depth – Seats must suit the tallest and the shortest users.
- Stability – The seat must be stable. A five-point base is best.
Having a properly designed chair is a good beginning but it may not bring the benefits expected if the user does not sit properly.
All the equipment and tools in the workstation must be ergonomic or “designed-in” to suit the users and minimize potential harm or injury to the worker, such as back pain. It is then up to the person to observe the safe practices and habits in using these tools in the workplace for him to fully benefit from them.