Can working in a non-ergonomic office be bad for your health? Yes, say some advocates of the ergonomic way of life. But, let’s face it; people have worked in traditional offices for years without risking their health and well being. Of course being smart about how you work can help increase your chances of staying safe and well.
The truth is that overly stressing any part of your body, albeit a set of muscles and tendons, your immune system or even your mental health can all be dangerous, and since ergonomics relies on bringing the physical, mental, emotional and technological beings together in better alignment and harmony it can only help create a healthier and more comfortable work environment.
Without an ergonomically designed workspace you could be setting yourself up for a myriad of physical ailments including:
- Carpel tunnel syndrome – this can be avoided by using better-aligned keyboards and other office tools
- Tendonitis – finding a better fit in office equipment can help alleviate this painful disorder
- Fatigue – something as simple as putting a glare filter on an annoying computer screen can ease eye strain and help alleviate mid-day fatigue
- Chronic colds and flu – stress can lower the immune system. Ergonomics helps to find ways to lower physical and emotional stress by improving the way people view their job tasks and finding better (and easier) ways to accomplish them. Another way to avoid more physical ailments is to make your work environment more physically comfortable in terms of temperature. People who feel too cold or hot in the office may be more apt to suffer from the sniffles or worse on a regular basis. Regulating temperatures and the like can help alleviate these problems once and for all.
- Mental health – psychological issues too can be avoided lowering stress levels, frustration and feelings of incompetence
We’ve listed a bunch of books that help deal with all of the above ergonomic issues.
So, now that you better understand the dangers of working in a non-ergonomic environment what can you do about? First, make sure the equipment and tools you use (computers, desks, chairs, etc), are comfortable to use. Be sure chairs and desks are at the right height to prevent neck and back strain; install extra lighting to stop eye strain; and use keyboards that are specially designed to prevent wrist and hand problems.
Next, make sure the outdoor environment is comfortable. Get rid of plants that may be causing allergy symptoms; lower or raise the temperature in your office or cubicle for the most comfort and add some soft music if that helps you relax more and concentrate better.
Finally, find ways to complete tasks in an easier manner. If you are having hand pain from folding newsletter and brochures, either enlist some help or try to talk your boss into buying a folding machine. You aren’t always going to be able to incorporate the best ergonomics ideas and designs into the workplace, but the key is to find as many as you can to make your work life easier and more comfortable.
This is true for your home life too, so make sure to find an ergonomic workspace and chairs that keep you comfortable, whether working or sleeping.
Authored in part by Matt Hick.