Why Ergonomics Represents A Small Investment — But A Massive Payoff

I had been working at the same division in a rather large company for the last 6 years. During that time I have had some laughs, some tears, have been both tremendously impressed and disappointed in some of the employees that I have been lucky enough to have.

Over that time I have learned a few things, how being a nice person does not always work, and how sometimes rules are meant to be broken just a little bit if there are extenuating circumstances. One other aspect to remember is the reason I am writing today — ergonomics make a massive difference in the workforce.

It is not always clear what the problem is

You see, having an ergonomic workstation does not just mean that you are reducing the number of employees that get carpal tunnel syndrome. After we started integrating an ergonomic work station approach, sick days start reducing drastically.

Not everyone is as dedicated to their job as managers would like to believe (or tell ourselves we would like to believe anyway). Sometimes all people need is a day of not feeling great or feeling fatigued for them to call in sick. These can be sometimes of not having an ergonomic work station.

Discomfort can manifest itself in many different ways. So instead of trying to make it impossible or uncomfortable for employees to take sick days (which some people recommended for some reason!) why not take that discomfort out of the equation?

Ergonomics does not mean pricey
Some managers hear the word ergonomic and they immediately assume that it means that they have to spend a great deal of money. I just want to set the record straight and tell everyone, employee, employer, independent, stay at home mother, whoever is reading this — ergonomic does not mean expensive.

In fact, it is much more expensive to make up for the lost production that we encounter because of people being uncomfortable. The only thing that my department had to do was buy new chairs. Our previous chairs did not provide Lombard support and I felt that having a chair that for everyone that had this type of support was worth it.

It increases the productivity of your staff. While we encourage people to get up and take a walk outside for a few minutes if they feel uncomfortable (clear their nose) they now work harder and more consistent while they are at their desk. While productivity is never going to be 100%, it has certainly increased.

The important thing to remember
Some people are scared of change. This may seem weird, especially considering that most employees consider themselves quite progressive, but it is true. Sometimes they do not want that extra cushion to protect their wrist, they do not want an arched chair or new keyboard, and they do not want to be told how they should sit.

While people may initially complain, they are soon going to have to acknowledge (begrudgingly so) that the changes were in fact for the best.

Some important things to remember
The following are some important tips you can use today, sitting behind your computer.

Make sure your feet hit the ground, if your feet are just sort of dangling and your chair is too high, your muscles may be straining and become quite uncomfortable after a while.

Make sure that your keyboard is not too far away. Look at your posture when you are using your keyboard, are your arms bent at more than a 90-degree angle? If so, either move closer to your keyboard or bring your keyboard closer to you.

Your monitor (the main part you work on anyway) should be on about the same level as your eyes. You should never be stretching your neck up or down to make sure that you see everything. If you are constantly looking down, find something to put your monitor on top of so it is raised.

And please, if you do get a chair with Lombard support, make sure you use it right. It took us weeks to figure out why some people were increasingly uncomfortable in chairs with Lombard support.

The arch in the chair needs to go in the small of your back, otherwise you are just going to end up hurting yourself more. You are going to need the best chiropractor you can get your hands on if you have the right equipment but fail to use.

Melissa Cameron currently works as a freelance writer. She discovered that the Internet allowed her to share her information with others in 2003.  She is currently working on series of articles with the help of a Sacramento back pain specialist in relates to treating back pain.  Melissa lives in Austin, Texas, along with her husband – Dave.