Proper Ergonomics: Small Adjustments, Big Impact

Proper Ergonomics: Small Adjustments, Big ImpactProper ergonomics.

Probably not really something you spend your time thinking about, but an issue that could drastically effective your well-being and success at work.

You probably often walk the halls of your company to say “hello” to your colleagues.

And maybe you see a fellow employee take a moment’s break from staring at his computer to rub his neck and tip his or her head from side to side.

This is so common, perhaps you don’t even notice it. But when does it become an issue?

Proper Ergonomics: A Common Workplace Issue

For Bradley Capener, a federal program coordinator for the Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon, it was when a complication of sciatica and lumbar disc generation turned into acute back pain. Add neck and wrist pain, too, and it’s no wonder Capener noted his concentration and productivity was impacted.

He reached out to William White from the school district’s Risk Management department for help. The school district had disability insurance through The Standard, and was able to connect Capener with the Workplace Possibilities℠ program for assistance.

“One of the advantages of the Workplace Possibilities program is the autonomy under which the workplace consultants work with our employees,” said White. “Once we connected The Standard directly with Capener, the process was out of our hands and conveniently handled by the Workplace Possibilities team.”

An evaluation of proper ergonomics was completed by Ben Lumsden, a Workplace Possibilities vocational consultant who specializes in occupational therapy, determined if workstation accommodations could help reduce his pain.

Providing simple adjustments to focus on proper ergonomics can have a major impact on reducing employee absences and increasing employee productivity.

Evaluation of Proper Ergonomics

Lumsden included three important elements in Capener’s ergonomic evaluation. These same three elements can be used to assess proper ergonomics at your own place of work:

Measurements

Sitting at a desk that’s the wrong height or using equipment that’s poorly placed can cause major strain on various body parts. For Capener, his desk was the wrong fit for his 6 foot 4 inch frame. Lumsden completed measurements seated and standing, measuring Capener’s femur length, knee height, elbow height and eye line to determine proper equipment placement and complete a chair fitting.

Adjustability

Capener had consistent pain in his back, and it was difficult for him to sit at his desk for more than 15 minutes at a time. The solution for Capener was an adjustable three-stage work surface that allowed him to transition from sitting to standing whenever he wanted to alleviate his discomfort. Now, he’s able to stand most of the time and says his pain has been dramatically reduced.

Combined Accommodations

Just like it wasn’t only back pain that was preventing Capener from being productive, it wasn’t just a desk or chair that helped alleviate his pain. Ensuring proper ergonomics requires a comprehensive look at the situation.

Neck tension, wrist pain, and tingling in his hands were issues, too. Lumsden’s holistic evaluation determined that dual-articulating monitor arms would adjust to meet his line of sight, mitigating neck strain. An ergonomically designed keyboard tray also allowed him to rest his arms and hands to eliminate the tingling sensation he previously experienced.

“The workstation changes have been extremely helpful and have alleviated my chronic back pain now that I stand most of the time at my desk,” Capener said. “My wrists don’t hurt anymore, my neck feels more relaxed and I’m more productive as a result.” For more about Capener’s accommodation, read our latest case study.

How is your workplace set up? Have you or your company made an effort to ensure proper ergonomics in your workplace?

This article originally appeared in Workplace Possibilities℠

photo credit: Electric Desk via photopin (license)