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Ergonomics and Workplace Design

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Author:  Jiji Thomas

By |  Via: Workplace Design Magazine

What first impressions does your workplace design project? Is it high on aesthetics? Does the furniture around your office intimidate you, or do you find it inviting?

Your office could boast of a highly creative and modern workspace, but is it able to harmonize impressions with positive cues for visitors and employees?

The fact is that most people often overlook the importance of designing the workplace to suit the needs of employees, who will eventually be spending the chunk of their time at the place.

Portrait of four professionals sitting at the table and discussing a business idea in the office

A study of the interaction of the human body with the surrounding environment will be able to achieve a balance between the workplace design and the human physical demands. Ergonomics aims to achieve this and more.

Ergonomics is a science related to the suitability of an office design to people. By taking into account people’s capabilities and limitations, an ergonomically designed workplace design strives to be effective in fulfilling the functional requirements of users.

The workplace design should aim to propagate intuition, teamwork, and more importantly, provide a safe and comfortable environment.

Workplace design has a profound impact on the productivity of workers. Making the best use of space through optimum placement of equipment, integrating the human factor into workplace design, and effectively aligning the workplace into the surrounding environment are important aspects of ergonomics.

The integration of principles of human well-being into workplace design has become critical for ensuring the workers perform to their best abilities. Although a man sitting at his desk doesn’t apparently give an impression of performing a toiling task, it is known to cause disorders that can have adverse effects on health.

 

Portrait of busy woman sitting at the computer table and touching computer mouse on the background of businesspeople

One of the disorders associated with the workplace is Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs). A wrong kind of chair or desk, or a wrong posture, could prove fatal in the long run. It could strain your eyes, cause head-aches, back aches, neck pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetitive nature of work.

There are also chances of developing musculoskeletal problems. The risk of injury due to an awkward posture or the repetitive nature of work, can make you uncomfortable and induce work-related stress.

Ergonomics helps provide the tools necessary to see that there is no undue strain on the body parts of an individual. With increasing rates of injury and illnesses caused as a result of workplace design, the cost to the company can add up in the long run.

Cluttered office workstations are one of the major reasons why organizations have high absenteeism and low morale at workplace. Workplace design should aim at designing to fit the human need rather than forcing people to fit into the design. The arrangements of chairs and desks in an office should aim at creating an ambiance that is worker-friendly. This allows a worker to produce the best results while maintaining good health.

Office ergonomics entails adopting designs that suits your workstation, your job requirement and your position. It focuses on the placement of the chair, desk, keyboard, monitor and the telephone.

An evaluation in course of making an office ergonomically compliant involves:

  • Recognizing the physical, physiological and psychological demands of a job
  • Recognizing the physical, physiological and psychological capabilities of a worker
  • Recognizing the mismatches between the demands and capabilities
  • Training and educating the worker to work optimally around the office space

 

The study that helps understand the physical, physiological, and psychological demands of a job should encompass a holistic view. It should consist of:

  • The setup of workstation in reference to the posture, the time taken to complete certain activity, the movement and repetitions required to complete an activity
  • The surroundings of your workplace, including the kind of workplace, the lightings used, the levels of noise, and the humidity and temperature
  • The job tools used for performing the job, like the mouse, the keyboard, the printer and the scanner.

 

The amount of time that we spent in an office, will determine the extent to which ergonomics impact our well being. An ergonomically compliant office should satisfy these questions:

  • Is the position of your keyboard and mouse right?
  • Are you able to use your Notebook in the most optimum way?
  • Do you have an adjustable monitor to reduce eyestrain?
  • Is there a presence of noise control mechanisms in your office?
  • Is your office temperature right?
  • Are you able to maintain the recommended distance while at your workstation; height and distance for seated and upright workstations?

 

The use of good ergonomics is considered as critical in modern-day office designs. The best workplaces are designed for people and around people. An ideal office design avoids having closed spaces like cubicles and encourages a more open and dynamic work area. Involving the employees in the design process is also a good idea. Studies show that employees who are involved in the design process of their workstations show a higher level of commitment and are more productive.

The importance of ergonomics cannot be over-emphasized. Organizations that use specialized services, such as CAD Services to have a better understanding of office interiors are able to integrate ergonomics into workplace design more effectively.

An ergonomically designed workplace will go a long way in creating a positive difference in the attitudes of workers while maintaining an atmosphere that is conducive to meet organizational goals.