A safe and healthy work environment is a productive work environment. All enterprises, regardless of their size or the nature of their business, should strive to create an ergonomically sound workspace for all employees—it's just good for business. Poor ergonomic practices can lead to lower productivity and in extreme cases physical injury, which is obviously bad for business.
However, no matter how well an enterprise designs a workspace, it is the responsibility of each employee to make sure they are using good ergonomics at their own workstation. All the fancy chairs, desks, and equipment in the world is not going to help an employee who slouches or slumps awkwardly at their desk.
Here are 10 ways to create a healthy, productive, and ergonomic working environment. For a comprehensive look at ergonomics, check out the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's website.
These tips will concentrate on office settings, but many of the general principles apply to other types of work as well.
1. Good working posture
Whether employees are working on the factory floor or in the corporate office, the number one ergonomic priority is establishing a good working posture at their workstation. They should be able to sit or stand in a neutral body position with a relaxed posture that requires no stressful angles or excessive reaching to complete tasks.
Office workers should sit with hands, wrists, and forearms that are straight, inline, and parallel to the floor. The head should be level, facing forward with no turn to the left or right, and generally be in line with the torso.
Standing at the workstation is also recommended and potentially ergonomically sound, assuming employees stand straight and their arms and wrists remain in the neutral position. Standing is a good counterpoint to sitting for long periods.
2. Adjustable chairs and desks
To encourage good posture and the neutral body position, enterprises should purchase high-quality adjustable chairs, furniture, and equipment. The more positions a chair and desk can adjust to, the more they can be tailored to the individual using them. When it comes to ergonomics, one size most definitely does not fit all.