Why Conduct Workstation Ergonomics Assessments

Does your workstation need a makeover? We don’t mean physical appearance. We mean the physical positioning of your work tools in relation to your body. Even gamers care about ergonomics. They often put careful thought into their glowing, LED-lit home office setups – called battle stations by those who love them. The rest of us would call our desktop setup something like our “work desk,” and though there are some differences, the general use is similar. You sit at your computer, you turn it on, and you type on the keyboard and click the mouse. 

Inevitably, the characteristically repetitive movements made at a computer desktop affect the computer users, so ergonomics planning is entirely savvy whether it’s around an influencer’s setup or not. If even the trendy-plastic-case computer users are making strides towards respect for ergonomics, how much more so should the more serious offices? They create the work environment for employees who have come in to keep their heads down on less glamorous but potentially more demanding work, after all. 

Step one towards creating a healthy, safe location for workers at their work stations is an ergonomics assessment. These can be carried out proactively or reactively. In the first case, you might wonder why anyone would fix something that is not broken. That is, why invest money towards addressing a potential problem when it has not yet manifested? However, proactive ergonomics assessments, carried out and then implemented through best practice, can help workers avoid painful injuries. They can even help the business on budget concerns. 

What is an ergonomics assessment?

The National Institutes of Health helpfully offers a simple self-assessment checklist for computer workstation ergonomics. The checklist says it hopes to encourage the most comfort and highest performance for any user of the workstation. The ergonomics assessment will look for any hot spots, or potential problem areas in your workstation setup. Consider this the DIY strategy.

A professional can conduct an ergonomics assessment with an eye towards reducing the use of any excessive force at work, unnecessary repetitive motions, awkward posture, pressures on the body, cold temperatures, and vibration. More than one risk factor can create an exponential increase in the risk of injury. The effects of issues as seemingly banal as eye strain, headaches, and fatigue can train employees to dread the discomfort of showing up to work and keep them from bringing their undivided attention to the task at hand. On the other hand, a well structured workspace allows the user to focus on the tasks at hand and creative solutions to advance in their work. 

How does an ergonomics assessment work?

Luckily, ergonomics assessments are easy and not necessarily time-consuming. Anyone can conduct a self-assessment, but a professional will know exactly where to look at the work environment and how workers interact with it. A specialist can not only objectively evaluate your work space, but also get feedback from those who use it daily, asking employees for their input and experiences to gain a detailed understanding of each workstation. Once the assessment is complete, the potential risks to employee safety and well-being are assessed, and a plan is created to address the highest risk categories first. Attention is paid to every area so that simple fixes can be made to high and low risk areas. 

Why Employers Should Conduct Ergonomics Assessments

Avoiding or ignoring the ergonomics assessment can lead to costly worker’s compensation claims and painful strains and injuries for employees. Indeed, there are many reasons why employers should conduct workstations ergonomics assessment

The idea of “risk” might scare some people, while others may wonder when it will manifest. Ergonomics is concerned with repetitive movements, awkward postures, and other features of an incorrectly designed workspace that can result, cumulatively and after some time, in injuries. The effect of thousands of the same motion can strain, tear, pressure, pinch, or otherwise cause trauma to the body. These can create musculoskeletal disorders which lead to suffering and lost time at work, or even employees who leave work completely when their concerns are ignored. 

Good ergonomic environments can lead to increased retention, foster a sense of being appreciated, and encourage an environment of considering the needs of others. Optimal organizational performance can boost morale, performance, and productivity. With less than one hour of evaluation and training in sound ergonomic setup per employee, the investment in a good ergonomic setup is minimal but can yield big results. The American Posture Institute reported a “93% reduction in workers’ compensation costs after implementing an ergonomics program,” too. That means delaying your office setup revamp is only costing you money, but it’s never too late to create a good plan. Contact us today to learn how you can better incorporate beneficial ergonomics solutions into your workplace.