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Office Ergonomics: The Need Of The Hour

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Good Morning, Mr Ripper

Hello Bob!” said the boss.

Well, bugger off to your perfect office whilst I suffer in this dump” thought Bob, the hardworking employee.

Bob smiled. He knew what was waiting for him in his office. A clumped up chair, a keyboard which requires him to stretch himself out if he has to type on it, a wooden floor which squeaks and plants which provide no motivation whatsoever. It clearly was a dump.

Do you know what Bob lacks? Is it motivation? Or maybe an imagination? Probably it is just office ergonomics.

What is office ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the study of how your body retorts to your surroundings.

Office ergonomics is the study of the relationship between the worker and the workplace.

You may think you are working really hard. You may feel tired at the end of the day. But if you sit at a desk all day, your life is sedentary. This lifestyle takes a huge toll on your health, both physically and mentally. Uncomfortable chairs, low desks, the poor spacing of items on your desk and the office environment all play an important role when it comes to Office ergonomics.

Poor office ergonomics not only impacts your health, but also your business. And everybody wants either health or wealth, sometimes both. Now imagine if you can have none.

If you are still not convinced, here are a few statistics:

1. The average adult spends 50%-80% of the day sitting at work.

2. 2/3 of the people in the working class are over-weight.

3. Back pain is one of the top ten reasons for a disability.

4. Musculoskeletal disorders are high for the working class.

5. In one-half of office workers, 16% complained of having severe pain at the end of the day.

6. A worker spends over 1500 hours in front of a computer.

You do not have to worry much because most companies take office ergonomics very seriously. When the ergonomic risk factors are nullified, the employees have maximum productivity and that in turn benefits the company.

Many companies hire an EHS (Environment, health and safety) team, who take care of the employee’s comfort and benefits.

If you think, how you sit and where your mouse is placed or even where your file holders are kept does not matter, then think again.

Here are a few guidelines on how to utilise the office equipment to your benefit:

1. Your throne (AKA your chair): The height and width of the chair matter. The height should be such that your feet are placed comfortably on the floor. Your knees should be in level with your hips. If your chair does not provide lumbar support, place a cushion on the curve of your lower back. Your elbows should be above the desk level. An easier way is to buy a chair that supports your lower back, has an adjustable elbow rest, a footrest and a tilt feature. If a foot rest is not available then get imaginative with a stool or a stack of books.

2. The rodent problem (Your mouse basically): Your mouse should be placed at the same level as your keyboard. When you use your mouse, your wrist should be straight and relaxed, not bent or twisted to either side. You can use a wrist rest if needed. Keep your shoulders relaxed. If you are taking a break, rest your hands on your palms, but never on your wrist.

3. Your monitor (No fancy names): The level at which your monitor is placed is important. It must be placed directly in front of you, not in the corner or above you. It should be in an arm’s length reach, around 18 to 30 inches away. The top circumference of the monitor should be a little above your eye level. Try and select a monitor which reduces the glare. If not, switch off the lights causing the glare or close the curtains. Try to place the monitor next to the bright source.

4. Posture (or your gait): This is an obvious guess. Straight. You must sit straight. Not only that but centre your body to the monitor and keyboard. Try not to cross your legs. Instead, place it on the foot rest. Your thighs and elbow should be parallel to the ground while resting. Your desk must be of a certain size and height, such that you will have the place to move your legs freely. Do not store anything under your desk. It creates clutter and a discomfort in your lower body.

5. The essentials (like the stapler, glue and pens): Keep these essentials close to you. Make sure you do not have to stretch to pick them up. If so, always stand up and receive it. Do not strain yourself. Use a headset, so that you do not have to strain yourself in picking up the receiver on a telephone.

A few more guidelines regarding office ergonomics:

1. Do not press your elbow or hands on sharp objects on your seat.

2. Give your eyes a break by gently massaging it or by looking at something distant.

3. Adjust your screen brightness according to your comfort.

4. Walk around your office. Do not sit for too long.

5. Place plants, potpourri or even family or friend’s pictures. It is always bound to make you feel better.

6. You can always exercise in your cabinet or office. Try to perform stretches.

7. Try to use all your muscle groups while working. Get imaginative.

There are many online platforms which provide ergonomic furnitures, like ergonomic chairs and keyboards.

The guidelines mentioned above are conventional. Ergonomics has taken a modern twist. Like the following:

1. The conventional method says to place the monitor 18-30 inches away, but you have to place it at any distance you prefer as long as you can see the content clearly.

2. The conventional method suggests you place the keyboard close to you. But that is unnecessary, as long as your elbow and wrist are well supported, you can place it at any distance you’d like.

3. The conventional method says to keep the mouse away but practically keep it near you. If it is near the keyboard then it is the best choice of placement.

4. The conventional method says you must keep the monitor a little above or at par with your eye level. This is fine, but some find it more comfortable to place it below. So find what suits you best.

5. The conventional method says a straight and constant posture is definitive. But a posture change is always better than a constant pose. Do not slouch but sit straight. Find the posture that suits you, then again do not slouch.

So there you go, simple yet efficient ways of making your professional life more comfortable and bearable. You have the conventional method and you have the modern method. Find what suits you best.

Office ergonomics is a wide platform. There are ongoing debates on whether their guidelines are effective or not. It may seem to be limiting, but it had many positive effects on your health. If you are the boss, then remember a healthy and happy employee is likely to stick around and deal with you better than the contrary.

Happy ergonomics to you!

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Source by Hita Prem

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