The term “ergonomics” is widely used, especially within the corporate setup. You know what it stands for. But do you know what it does not stand for?
The International Ergonomics Association defines the term as “the scientific discipline seeking to understand interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”
Simply put, ergonomics is the study of workers’ efficiency and productivity within their working environment.
It tries to find out how employees behave while at work and how their work impacts their general health and energy levels.
It then tries to tweak the system to make it safer, healthier, and more productive for them.
- What is Ergonomics?
- How Bad Ergonomics Can Affect You
- Ergonomics: Busting the Myths
- Enhance Your Ergonomics with Kensington
Ergonomics comes from two Greek words. “Ergon” which means work, and “nomos” which means laws. So, it means the “law of work” or the “science of work.”
This work could be undertaken from home, in the office, or at a field job.
An ideal ergonomic approach creates an optimal environment for employees. It does this by reducing discomfort, fatigue, and chances of developing long-term injuries.
This field is multidisciplinary. It includes physiology, psychology, kinesiology, biomechanics, industrial equipment and design, and other disciplines.
Often, the terms “ergonomics” and “humanness” get used interchangeably.
The former denotes the physical aspects of work, such as workstations, control panels, and industrial equipment.
The latter is more complex. It deals with workers’ psyche and involves boosting employee morale, reducing stress, and infusing enthusiasm.
Bad ergonomics can prove to be a health hazard over the long term. Sitting at a desk all day long can lead to sprains, strains, and, in extreme cases, serious back injuries.
The negative effects are multifold.
According to research findings, almost 2 million workers in the U.S. suffer from Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis each year.
Workplace sedentary lifestyles can cause:
- Reduced metabolism
- Heart disease
- Increased blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Increased risk of cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Stress and anxiety
Despite being around for decades, myths and misconceptions shroud ergonomics.
Many see it as just a fad – something about fancy, expensive chairs, computer docking systems, adjustable monitors, and so on.
Ongoing research scientifically proves the benefits of employing ergonomics in our everyday lives.
Yet, it is not as widely acknowledged, accepted, or adopted as it deserves to be.
Let us examine some of the most common fallacies associated with ergonomics:
Fact: We humans come in different sizes and shapes. How can we expect one standard piece of office equipment to fit us all?
Each of us is built differently. Just because an office chair or the monitor height is comfortable for your colleague doesn’t mean it will suit you.
You cannot modify your body structure to fit your workplace. It has to be the other way around. To give your best in the office, your workstation, including your chair, table, and mouse, have to be a good fit for you.
The Kensington SmartFit line offers a unique approach to ergonomics. SmartFit products are easy to use and can be adjusted to best suit your body structure.
Fact: Do you commonly experience serious back pain, numbness, tingling, or another discomfort while working?
You should immediately set up a comfortable work area, which will help alleviate your physical stress.
That said, ergonomics is not just for those in pain. It also works to prevent symptoms or injuries before they show up.
Using the right office equipment helps you avoid health issues that may crop up in the future.
Fact: The principles of ergonomics apply to everyone from all walks of life, engaged in all kinds of jobs. Staff employed in industries that involve heavy lifting, like construction, carpentry, plumbing, heavy machinery, transportation, and aviation, can be deeply affected.
The present pandemic has forced most of us to work from home. Remote work is the new normal and may continue post-pandemic.
Employers should consider this and create effective, long-term ergonomic programs for the benefit of their staff.
Companies mistakenly think that purchasing ergonomic equipment is a waste of money and does not offer ROI.
Fact: The National Safety Council estimates worker fatigue to cost corporations $136 billion in health-related expenditure and lost productivity.
Research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that about 1.8 million workers are afflicted with RSI every year. A government study indicates that the cost of RSI works out to almost $20 billion annually.
Some have observed that those working in an ideal ergonomic environment take fewer sick days and are more focused and productive while at work.
Companies that invest in ergonomics experience a cost-benefit ratio of 1:6. On average, for every dollar spent on comfortable furniture, companies reap 6 times the benefit in terms of employee health and efficiency.
Many think that ergonomics is just a fad and will fade away with time.
Fact: The fact is that it is as ancient as time itself. The term, though, was officially coined in 1949.
Even in 400 BC, the Greeks used these principles to craft tools, chairs, and tables for their workers.
Hippocrates (460 BC to 375 BC) documented his thoughts for creating the ideal workplace for surgeons.
Ergonomics is here to stay and, given the amount of research on the subject, it will only evolve and improve over time.
Ergonomics isn’t only for those who work in an office or who are in pain. This concept applies to your entire life and impacts all that you do.
Whether you’re an individual or a company, applying the right ergonomic principles can help you lead a happier, healthier, more productive, and more profitable life.
Do you wish to set up the right ergonomic equipment for home/office use?
Look no further. We at Kensington offer you a stunning range of workstations, laptop risers, monitor stands, docking stations, portable locks, and much more.
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