Many times when people hear the word “ergonomics,” they immediately think of sitting in front of a computer. And yes, the science of ergonomics is an important factor in designing a safe and comfortable workspace. But ergonomics is so much more than fitting the workplace conditions and demands to the capability of the worker; it can be equally as important to modify your behavior and habits in the workplace!
For example, let’s apply the same science to operating a vehicle. For those of you who enjoy watching competitive motorsports, I’m sure you would agree that the ergonomic design of race cars, like the steering wheel and cockpit, has drastically changed over the years. My husband and I recently watched a video that showed a 1954 Ferrari 553 F1 race car and it made me realize just how much things really have changed. My first car was a bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle; I remember driving that car everywhere. Unlike my current vehicle that has multiple electronic seat adjustments, it had a few manual levers. It worked out great for me because I was a petite teenager, but to someone like my dad who was bigger and taller, it wasn’t the most comfortable car to drive.
Today’s cars are designed to provide more comfort and accommodate a greater variety of body types, but those items are only beneficial when properly applied by the driver. Design can certainly help you achieve a comfortable ride, but what about good body postures and taking breaks? Unfortunately, I learned these principles the hard way. Earlier this year, we decided to take a trip in my husband’s new car. Don’t get me wrong, this car is designed for comfort; it even has lumbar seat warmers. However, by the end of the trip, my right shoulder and neck were really sore. I kept thinking to myself, “How in the world could I be sore when all I was doing was sitting?” Then it occurred to me that for the majority of the trip, my forearm was planted on the right armrest. So regardless of the fantastic design of the car, I had been placing my body in an awkward position for a long period of time.
The same scenario can be applied to your business or workplace. While ergonomically-designed equipment has proven effective in many cases, it may not be the best solution if it’s not used properly. I suggest looking at yourself in a mirror or having a co-worker take a picture of you while you’re working. This can help identify your posture which may actually be causing you discomfort. Oftentimes people don’t realize their posture may be incorrect until they see it for themselves.
Hopefully this helps you begin to apply the science of ergonomics at your workplace. Posture can go a long way in creating a safe and healthy work environment. But, as always, feel free to reach out to your local loss control representative for more tips! Do you have any suggestions for creating a comfortable workplace? I’d like to hear them below.