workstation

Ergonomics And Productivity – Ways To Make Employees Safer At WorkStations

Four Simple Ergonomic Steps to a More Productive Workplace

Paying attention to ergonomics pays off by removing barriers to productivity.

With any task, selecting the proper tool is crucial. The key is to understand the work process and employees’ safety needs. After identifying the likely risk factors in an operation, develop a safer work environment by carefully selecting the tools and workstations workers will use…

READ MORE

 

7 Ways to Make Employee Workstations Safer with Ergonomics

  1. Adequate workspace.. It’s imperative that the general work area is large enough for the individual to move about comfortably in seated and standing positions. Cramped, small office spaces can not only restrict activity but can cause workers to become stressed and constantly disturbed. Encouraging free movement with a sizable workspace will allow employees to stretch out limbs accordingly, preventing muscle tension and increasing blood flow, helping to avoid various short and long-term health complications.
  2. Computer positions. Badly positioned monitors can force the operator to work in awkward and uncomfortable conditions, affecting both their work-rate and health. Adverse effects of poorly located monitor equipment include musculoskeletal injuries (such as neck and back pain), eye strain/irritation, blurred vision, and headaches.
  3. Keyboard and mouse placement. The positioning of your keyboard and mouse should be built around the natural bodily posture. In order to reduce muscle load and avoid strain, elbows should be kept to your sides and arms at or below a 90° angle. Keyboards should, therefore, be placed a couple of inches above your worker’s thighs which can be achieved by lowered desks (or raised chairs) or investing in pull-out keyboard trays. They should also be positioned with a slight negative tilt towards the user, which you can attain using keyboard feet or stands

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

2018-07-27T13:13:25+00:00Ergo Squad News|

Prevent Fatigue at Work for a Healthier & More Productive Workforce

We have all had those days where we are working intensely at our computers, not taking breaks, and under a great deal of stress. At the end of that day we are exhausted. We didn’t do heavy physical activity, rather we worked too hard, for too long. For many of us this means that when we get home we crash.

If this happens every once in a while that is one thing, but many people repeat this pattern every work day. Can you imagine the stress that places on their health and what it does to their quality of life?

Fatigue might not seem like a big deal but, it decreases our ability to respond to situations and zaps our energy. It is also a risk factor for injury.

To prevent this ongoing cycle, one must learn to manage fatigue by balancing and pacing themselves throughout the day. The skill of pace is not one that comes easy for many. You have to remind yourself to slow down and take small breaks along the way to achieve overall endurance.

One study analyzed elite performers spanning from musicians to athletes to chess players. The study concluded that more rest can maximize achievement. This goes against what many of us practice.

We arrive to work, focus on the task at hand and go as hard as we can without break until we get really fatigued. Sadly, some estimates show as many as two-thirds of office workers eat lunch at their desk. Employers tend to see these people as the hardest workers, but what they are doing has been shown to be counterproductive. Going without breaks exhausts us and the result can be lack of focus and reduced quality of work.

Top performers, by contrast, tend to practice in focused sessions lasting no more than 90 minutes. They work in bursts taking frequent breaks to ensure recovery and avoid exhaustion. This supports studies that conclude that performance deteriorates in continuous work, but can be reversed by taking rest breaks.

Breaks from sustained activity as short as one minute have been shown effective in restoring performance while at the computer. These should be a combination of both physical and mental breaks (depending on personal need) so employees can learn to master their pace.­­

ABOUT FATIGUE

There are many types of fatigue in the office – mental, eye, static muscle and muscle over-use. The effects of fatigue on your body can manifest in the form of tiredness, headaches, body aches, and even irritability.

All of the fatigue types combined together can be quite the monster.

When I talk about fatigue I always think about a long car trip. Imagine yourself driving for 9 hours. A trip like this is always exhausting. You have static muscle fatigue from holding the same sitting posture for so long. You have mental fatigue from the monotony of the drive and extended focus. If you are in heavy traffic or have crying children – increase that mental load. Your arms and hands are likely tired from gripping and holding onto the steering wheel. There is no tremendous physical activity involved, but the majority of people will be extremely tired by the onset of fatigue during the drive.

Some people’s work environments closely resemble a long road trip. Sitting for hours without movement in a closed space, intense focus and repetitive arm work. Replace the traffic and crying kids with work stress, deadlines, customers and co-workers.

It is often the combination of multiple types of fatigue that can lead to complete exhaustion. It is up to each of us to do what we can to manage our fatigue. Awareness is key and taking the time to rest is necessary to optimize our work performance over the long-term.

MANAGING FATIGUE AT WORK BY SOFTWARE INTERVENTION

Studies have shown that scheduled breaks were generally more effective than leaving workers to take breaks at their own discretion.

I have been working with the company Efficiency Software on CtrlWORK Software. It was created to coach and encourage workers to take the breaks they need to avoid fatigue. The goal of the software is to raise consciousness in a natural, non-forced way that a small break is needed.

The software targets different types of fatigue and gives users the ability to customize their own plan. The user chooses a setting that best represents their needs and then they have the ability to enhance this with custom reminders and content.

The software measures the time and intensity to which employees engage with their computer. If the computer user works for too long without taking a natural break, the software will advise that they need to take a micro-break. Computer users get feedback on their computer usage and intensity. CtrlWORK lets them know what they are doing well and what they could improve on to have more comfort and energy.

Admins can view statistics to see how employees are doing and better target which departments could use more coaching/support.

The proactive feedback closes the loop for an organization between providing a tool to take breaks, to providing them feedback on the actual usage of the tool, to responsibility of taking breaks on part of the individual employee.

This article was originally published to LinkedIn.
Written by Ann Hall, Vice President of Workplace Ergonomics and Marketing at Ergo Squad

2018-07-07T12:14:04+00:00Ergo Squad Events|

Don’t Overlook Safety When Setting Up Your Sit To Stand Desk

Don’t Overlook Safety When Setting up Your Sit to Stand Desk

I would like to think most office set-ups have been well thought out and the furniture set-up by a well-trained installation team. The home office however is entirely different. I would guess most home workers have set-up their own workspace. Some of us have pets and kids (grown kids too) that interact in our space which makes controlling the space difficult.

There can be hazards in self-constructed static models (I often see tipping and loading hazards in online pictures). Also, anytime you have moving components you could possibly run into a safety issue, either person or material. This goes for electric and manual (have you ever had your fingers smashed in a door?).

Given my experience with motorized components and sit to stand desks I had rated myself entirely capable of setting everything up myself (perhaps that is where I went wrong- being overly confident).

I went over the basics such as avoiding pinch points and clearance from the lowest to highest point. I even trained my kids (well I tried anyway. The desk is apparently too irresistible).

What I missed was side clearance. On both sides of my desk I have doors (see picture). Imagine my surprise when I walked into my office and one side of my desk was pinned underneath the door knob and the other side was almost fully in standing position. My 11 year old son was raising the desk to standing position when the top collided with my door knob. In his confusion he kept running the desk upwards until it stopped.

The picture is what my office setup used to look like. It simply had to be changed to avoid potential obstacles.

With so many different models of desks and types of workstations I can only offer the basics below. The intent is to create awareness of potential issues so that hopefully you can avoid them.

Clearance:

Make sure that nothing could collide with the desk as it moves up and down. This doesn’t just include above and below. This includes things like drawers, doors or chairs that could come in from the side and create an obstacle. Most spaces are dynamic so just keep in mind how things change for the space day to day.

Pinch points:

When moving the desk from the lowest position to the highest position make sure there is plenty of room around the desk. The rule of thumb on this I have always heard is at least 2 inches of space all the way around the desk. BIFMA has a standard for pinch points that might be helpful for you if you have concerns.

Cord length:

If you have something on your desk that is connected to something else by cord/cable (lamp, fan, etc…), you want to make sure that the cord is long enough and has enough slack to go the entire range of travel without incident.

Load/Tipping point:

I have viewed several pictures online of homemade contraptions that convert sitting desks into standing desks (plastic containers holding giant monitors, stools stacked on desks, loads of books and boxes, ironing boards). For product safety and reliability, commercial desks are tested for loading and stability. Issues such as bending moment are examined. Basically, engineers use their extended knowledge to understand and predict how materials and “structures support and resist self-weight and imposed loads.” (Wikipedia)

This may not seem important to you but if you are determined to build your own desk you need to examine these things and maybe even consider anchoring some things to the wall to prevent tipping. This is especially important if you have children. What happens if they climb on the desk? Pull something off the desk?

Turn it off:

Some desks have a lock out where you can somewhat control who can use the desk. I don’t have this feature so when I want to disable my motorized desk I unplug the switch or power cable. I have a software where I can control the desk from my computer so for me it doesn’t matter if my switch stays unplugged. That is how I had to approach the issue with my kids. I simply disabled the movement when I was not at the desk.

I am not sure what you could do about a manual system. I am not sure if they have lock-out features.

Impulse drive movement:

This is when you simply touch a button and the desk moves to another position automatically. This is seen as a cool feature, however it is much safer for a hand to be controlling the movement at all times.

Collision control feature:

Many of the commercial grade brands of motorized components have engineered safety devices into their components such as anti-collision features. What this means is that if the desk collides with an object it will stop running and slightly retract back in the other direction. You would have to check with the furniture manufacturer to see if your model has this feature.

Exposed moving components:

Keep your person and materials clear of any moving components that may have openings. Most of your better motorized components will be fully enclosed (and for good reason!), but I have heard of some that have potential openings. There are several different manual systems that are the same. I have seen them enclosed and also exposed.

Tripping hazard:

If you have engineered your own desk you need to make sure that the base of the desk is not protruding out where it would cause a tripping hazard. This also goes for cord management. Make sure the cords of all equipment on the desk are clear of your foot space.

If you have questions or concerns about safety the best thing to do would be to talk to the group from which you purchased your desk and follow their recommendations. If you have anything to add that will help please feel free to comment.

This article was originally published to LinkedIn.
Written by Ann Hall, Vice President of Workplace Ergonomics and Marketing at Ergo Squad

2018-07-07T12:16:10+00:00Ergo Squad Events|