Comfort While Working Is A Win-Win!

There are many factors that impact employee comfort at work, including the social environment as well as physical factors such as noise, lighting, and workspace set up.  All of these elements are important but for now, we want to focus on the physical workspace. 

At the beginning of the pandemic Dimensions sent our clients and colleagues ergonomic tips for employees having to abruptly work remotely. Even though many organizations are re-opening again for the second time (!), many are not, realizing that remote work is extremely popular for many plus it has been demonstrated to be productive. And some organizations are implementing a hybrid option so that employees can flex remote and in-person schedules. 

Regardless of the work arrangements, considering ergonomic factors ensure comfort, focus, and productivity. Ergonomics is the art and science of how the workspace is set up to accommodate the person in order to prevent discomfort and/or musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The workspace can be a lab, office, manufacturing area, warehouse – really any work environment.  The primary ergonomic risk factors are,

  • Posture
  • Force
  • Repetition

Below are brief definitions and other ergonomic risk factors.

Doing the same motions repeatedly places stress on the muscles and tendons. The severity of risk depends on how often the action is repeated, the speed of the movement, the number of muscles involved and the required force.

Forceful Exertions 
Force is the amount of physical effort required to perform a task (such as heavy lifting) or to maintain control of equipment or tools. The amount of force depends on the type of grip, the weight of an object, body posture, the type of activity and the duration of the task.

Awkward Postures
Posture is the position your body is in and affects muscle groups that are involved in physical activity. Awkward postures include repeated or prolonged reaching, twisting, bending, kneeling, squatting, working overhead with your hands or arms, or holding fixed positions. 

Contact Stress
Pressing the body against a hard or sharp edge can result in placing too much pressure on nerves, tendons and blood vessels. For example, using the palm of your hand as a hammer can increase your risk of suffering an MSD.

Operating vibrating tools such as sanders, grinders, chippers, routers, drills and other saws can lead to nerve damage.

Contributing Factors
These may include for example, psychosocial factors, lighting, working in a cold environment, housekeeping, and even noise distractions

A combination of ergonomic risk factors increases the likelihood of discomfort and MSD, especially the 3 primary risks. Assessing each work area for ergonomic risk factors should be an important component of your safety program. This can be combined as part of a Job Hazard Assessment of tasks performed, or a stand-alone element. Considerations to assess include for example,

  • The physical layout
  • Job demands
  • Tools used
  • The environment such as lighting and temperature
  • Psychosocial aspects of the work environment

There are several factors and tips that make a tremendous difference. Many adjustments can be quickly implemented and bring immediate relief.  Often the adjustments or any additional equipment needed are inexpensive and certainly less costly than the pain, treatment, and loss of work from an MSD. 

Ergonomic assessments are beneficial regardless of whether employees are back in the workplace or working remotely. Small considerations have a great impact on comfort!

Please contact us  if you have any questions. We are happy to discuss ergonomic factors within your facility and the best options to meet your needs and issues.

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