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How To Perform An Ergonomic Assessment In The Office

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Tim Rhodes

Recently, although the workplace is considered as low-risk for injuries, there are ways of conducting precise ergonomic assessments. 

Even if the impact of injuries or other severe injuries in the office is declining, repetitive stress like musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), chronic high blood pressure, and heart conditions, are increasing. 

Repetitive movements like typing, pushing, lifting, and pulling, or poor sitting posture can cause, or exacerbate musculoskeletal problems. 

Conducting a thorough ergonomic assessment in the office is the primary step, for employers who aim at reducing absenteeism, associated with musculoskeletal disorders and back pain. 

The great news is, that an ergonomic assessment of every employee who is prone to risks, can determine the areas of concern, which can aid you in launching a pilot program or re-energizing your recent program.

The said evaluation aids in identifying the ergonomic risks on repetitive chores, that can cause aches, inappropriate workspace structure, and inappropriate usage of tools, which can result in the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

If you’re thinking of taking this method yourself, consider the following measures as you administer your assessment, so you can find the insights you want, to establish or improve your ergonomics program.

Table of Contents

Ergonomic Assessment: Defining Its Importance and Purpose

An ergonomic assessment can also be called an ergonomic risk assessment, which is aimed at measuring some risk factors in your work setting, that may cause musculoskeletal disorders or severe injuries amongst your workforce.

The purpose of an ergonomic assessment is, to know these risk factors and quantify them, to create an accurate calculable development in your work environment. 

A detailed ergonomic assessment is a foundation for producing a harmless, healthier, less injury-prone office, and improving overall office wellness. 

After administering an ergonomic assessment, the Human Resource Department can take the data, for creating the fundamental steps in reducing injury and enhancing comfort in the office. 

Some potential adjustments for the office could include giving standing desks, adjustable seats and workstations, lumbar support, ergonomic mouse and keyboards, and footrests. 

Industrial and manufacturing companies can enhance the ergonomics for their workers, by giving adjustable workstations, anti-fatigue standing mats, free occupational therapy, and training, to enhance better posture on the neck and shoulder.

Purpose of Ergonomic Assessment

Throughout an ergonomic assessment, a professional will come out to your workplace and assess the nature of its ergonomics.

The professional will examine your entire office area, as well as numerous individual features, including movable furniture, working positions, and the worker’s supply at their disposal. 

This is performed to guarantee, that the ergonomics of the place are up to date and proper for workers.

More essentially, these assessments are executed to identify notable design issues, that could occur to health risks in the coming months or years. 

If the assessor observes something that could produce impairment to employees overtime, clinical suggestions are made for enhancements and fixes, and the latest ergonomic products are recommended. 

This enables business owners to learn further about their workspaces, while also securing that employees stay healthy, efficient, and productive.

Why You Must Have an Ergonomic Assessment?

Ergonomic assessment or evaluation is very essential, since, you can utilize them, to pinpoint health risks and office hazards, before they become a dilemma. 

Certainly, ergonomic design imperfections are difficult to recognize, and some are simply found after the workers begin to suffer muscle ache, back pain, and other health problems. 

Anyone who agonizes from health problems, as an outcome of poor office layout, can file worker compensation claims, and these can make you lose a lot of funds, as well as your company’s reputation and public image.

By studying how you can enhance your office, you can make employees more productive and efficient, which can lead to more savings for your firm. 

Besides, these assessments aid you in developing a connection with your workers, since you are displaying pure care in their wellbeing. 

Even if you are very confident in your work station’s ergonomics, it’s never harmful, to perform an ergonomic assessment in the office.

How long does the assessment take?

The duration of an ergonomic assessment in the office ideally relies on the area of the office space, that is being assessed. 

Some departments are small, and barely have a staff of about ten to thirty, while larger agencies can have at least one hundred workers.

An assessment can take anyplace from thirty minutes to merely over an hour, based on how much the place requires, to be covered. 

After the evaluation, a report will be supplied to the employer, that shows any major concerns, which requires proper and immediate attention.

These assessments shouldn’t take too long out of your day, but be ready to set aside some more time, if you have a larger office space.

How Much Does an Ergonomic Assessment Costs?

The most helpful thing about ergonomic evaluations is, that they cost nothing to set up. 

The method of solely having someone reach out to your office to examine it, will not require you a single penny. 

Fairly, the charges come from buying the ergonomic office equipment and furniture you need, to enhance the quality of your work conditions. 

The Importance Of Assessing Your Office

Ergonomic office assessments are a crucial part of the business world, since, they help assure employers, that employees won’t be at danger of injury throughout work hours. 

Through these assessments, business owners can find major design issues, before workers get hurt on the spot. 

Employees who grieve injuries at work will probably seek compensation from their firm, which will not seem good for the company’s investments or public image. 

Read on to understand why you must take ergonomic assessment seriously.

You Can Spot Problems Early

The principal intention behind an ergonomic office assessment is, to distinguish health risks that lead to health issues, including musculoskeletal ailments. 

These problems can be caused by poorly adjusted seats, bad keyboards placement, and a prevailing absence of ergonomic office furniture. 

A minor imperfection in the ergonomics of a workspace will not cause dilemmas in an instant, but leaving it alone for a long period, workers tend to start experiencing health issues along the road.

These concerns can continue for a while, and if you do not do anything about the problem, you will reasonably find out about the injury, after an employee files a worker’s compensation claim. 

By exercising your ergonomic evaluation earnestly, you can discover these matters and fix them, before they harm worker health.

Happy Employees are More Productive

As mentioned, ergonomic assessments permit you to uncover fundamental imperfections in your office layout, so you can immediately correct them. 

Employees need to be properly comfortable at work, or else your reputation could go south fast. 

By making ergonomic modifications, your employees will be much happier during workdays.

This, in turn, leads to more efficient and productive working hours, where more tasks are completed in a shorter period. 

Also, employees who are working happily and comfortably at their workstations, are more inclined to put extra effort into their projects. 

Employees do more work, and you don’t have to worry about dealing with possible compensation claims.

Transparency Builds Trust

Another rationale of the importance of conducting an ergonomic evaluation is, that you can obtain information, that your employees can take advantage of knowing. 

Right after taking part in the assessment, it would be smart to share the obtained information with your employees. 

By sitting down and presenting this data with employees, you can speak about some changes that need to be made, and you can discourse any concerns from employees directly.

Conversing straight with employees about workspace ergonomics is very essential, since, it shows a legitimately kind consideration, for the well-being of your employees.

Throughout this process, employees and seniors form a better relationship and can work synchronically, to build effective ergonomic solutions. 

This makes employees feel more harmless at work, and more efficient production can get done as an outcome.

Consequences Of Ignoring Ergonomics

What could be the consequences of taking ergonomics for granted?

Workers who are not comfortable working at their workspace, will not be as efficient and productive, and if they continue working in this situation, they may experience serious health issues. 

This could potentially drive people to file a worker’s compensation claim, and you won’t be able to protect yourself in court if, you did nothing to mitigate the problem.

If you see yourself in this sort of state, even after completing an assessment, you can still get into difficulty if, you can’t provide a comprehensive amount of data. 

The health of an employee is a pressing matter, so it would be smart to set up an ergonomic assessment as soon as possible, so you can smooth out any issues before you undergo extreme consequences. 

Always be certain to keep records of everything stated throughout the assessment, so you can come back to them later.

Problems That Can Be Bypassed With An Office Ergonomic Evaluation

Having a healthy and secure work setting is critical if, you want to keep your workers happy, efficient, and productive.

If you are looking to improve some health issues in your office, you must take advantage of an ergonomic office evaluation. 

During one of these evaluations, assigned specialists will come and assess your office. 

At this point, the specialist will highlight problems that could be preventing the capabilities of your employees, and describe how to properly fix them.

Learn more about some general ergonomic problems you can fix, by signing up for an official assessment. 

1. Stuck With Uncomfortable Office Seats

A notable cause of bad workplace ergonomics is utilizing office seats, that are made from poor quality materials. 

Workers who aren’t comfortable utilizing their current office seats will be troubled, and won’t be capable of staying efficient and productive. 

That can drastically affect, how much work gets accomplished throughout the workweek. 

Choosing the appropriate office seat isn’t always simple, but doing so is required if you want workers to stay efficient and productive. 

Office seats must be made from comfortable materials and must have lumbar support for the back, to prevent back pains from happening. 

If you believe you need to change your office seats, call for experts, that can assist you to find the best ones for your office.

2. Poor Workstation Design, Leading to Poor Posture

Another usual cause of health problems, for office workers, is a badly designed workstation. 

The way employees set up their monitors, keyboards, and other work supplies can undoubtedly affect how they place themselves while sitting down. 

For instance, employees can begin to slouch and bend their necks if, their computer monitors are placed too low. 

Also, an individual can strain their hands and arms if, their keyboards are placed too far away. 

Having bad posture for a long period can have long-lasting effects on one’s health, so having a well-organized workstation is vital. 

Some experts can provide help to your workers in reconfiguring their workstations, so they can correct their posture. 

3. Failure In Utilizing Natural Sitting Position

Even if a worker’s workstation is arranged and organized, muscle stress can still be a problem. 

This is due to many office workers, failing to utilize natural positions while sitting properly at their desks. 

Sitting in uncomfortable positions can put tension on the muscles, and make workers lose the motivation to work. 

If you notice that your workers are not exercising natural sitting positions, you can tell them how to. 

Some factors of a natural sitting position include; having your head above your shoulders without bending it forward or back, keeping one’s feet flat on the floor, and utilizing armrests when necessary. 

4. Obesity Due To Lack Of Mobility

Another risk that you can be possibly aware of, is obesity. 

Sitting 8 hours a day, without any walking exercise, can result in various health problems and that includes obesity, as you’ll gain weight and weakens your muscles as well.

Most specialists notice that office staff sit down too much, which is something that is not recommended. 

They usually suggest that office staffs need to get up every hour or so, to go for a walk or have a little stretching. 

5. Too Much Pressure Causes Strain

Some individuals have a poor habit of, employing an exorbitant amount of pressure or force while working. 

For instance, someone could cling on to their computer mouse too tightly, or press a keyboard too strongly. 

Using too much pressure throughout the day can cause workers to strain their muscles, and tire out instantly. 

Conducting An Ergonomic Assessment In The Office

Performing a successful ergonomic evaluation is an uncomplicated process.

You have to assess the work conditions and evaluate how your workforce associates with that environment. 

However, you must keep these unbiased goals in mind as you start your ergonomic evaluation so, that you can investigate the specifics.

Here are a few dependable measures, for conducting an ergonomic assessment in the office:

1. Review Existing Records

The primary step to any ergonomics evaluation is, to check the history of your workplace and be sure, that you perceived well your baseline. 

Check some claim records like reports about an injury at the workstations, worker’s compensation, first aid logs, and any other available records you have.

As you’re studying this data, identify any high-risk activities, as well as usual complaints and injuries. 

This will aid you, in focusing your ergonomics evaluation and development efforts, on parts where you will observe the most outcomes.

2. Select Your Tools Wisely

On the last three steps of your ergonomics evaluation, you’re going to collect and examine current data, regarding your workplace and employees. 

Before doing this, it’s essential to look back and determine how you will possibly measure this information. 

Luckily, you don’t need to create these ergonomics measurements by yourself. 

There are several well-respected ergonomics evaluation tools accessible in the public domain, that have been produced by organizations like the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. 

Some of the best accessible ergonomics evaluation tools are:

  • Liberty Mutual Manual Material Handling Tables (SNOOK Tables)
  • Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA)
  • Rapid Upper Limb Assessment (RULA)
  • Hand-Arm Vibration Calculator (HAV)
  • WISHA Caution Zone Checklist
  • WISHA Hazard Zone Checklist
  • The NIOSH Lifting Equation

Most of these checklists are easily obtainable online, and many have now produced mobile apps as well. 

Select the appropriate tools that fit your workplace or offices, and utilize these as the basis for collecting your actual data.

3. Collect Subjective Data

After reviewing your office’s history on a work-related injury, visit the workplace and collect feedback from your staff.

Utilize all of that data, to improve a prioritized list of work programs and departments, that you want to assess. 

Utilize the ergonomics evaluation tools you’ve selected, to measure risk factors and completely achieve your objective assessment.

4. Understand All Data and Prioritize Potential Risk

Lastly, get all gathered data and insights together to form a prioritized list of potential risk factors and risk mitigation possibilities. 

Analyze and understand your current data as well as the latest objective and subjective data you collected during the evaluation in its totality and by duty and function. 

You must know key insights and chances for risk reduction, and prioritize these possibilities by the potential of the severity of the injury.

It’s also recommendable to identify some areas, for long-term and short-term effects.

Once you’ve finished these steps, you’ll have developed an absolute, executable report of all ergonomic risk factors. 

You’re now ready, to produce a strategy to lessen these risks and enhance the ergonomics, at your workstation.

Office Solutions That Improve Workplace Ergonomics 

Sitting down all day can take casualties on your health, particularly if it isn’t well-designed. 

If you feel that you strained your muscles during work hours, there’s a great possibility, that something is wrong with your posture or sitting position. 

To prevent serious occurrences of health issues and musculoskeletal ailments, you must consider making a few ergonomic modifications to your workstation instantly. 

Check out the following pointers, and you’ll feel more comfortable while working. 

Change to Sit-Stand Workstations

Enhancing ergonomics at the office, you need to have a sit-stand workstation

You may not notice it at first, but while you are at your post, you’re sitting down for about half of your day.

Sitting down for quite a long time can lead to severe health issues, such as obesity and cardiovascular ailment. 

By shifting to an alterable workstation, you can set your desk’s length, enabling you to stand while working. 

This aids in reducing the strain in your back and legs, which makes you feel better. 

If you get exhausted from standing, you can readjust it, so you can properly sit down again.

Practice Proper Sitting Habits

Having an excellent office seat is great for ergonomics, but it doesn’t matter how great your seat is if, you don’t sit correctly. 

Office staffs often let themselves slouch in their seats, or hunch over their computer keyboards. 

By practicing proper ergonomic habits in sitting, you’ll be productive, thus avoiding severe health problems later in life. 

Always sit up correctly and straight, and check that your feet are placed flat on the ground. 

To prevent eye strain and make your shoulder more relaxed, remember to constantly sit at least 20 inches from your computer screen. 

Don’t try lifting your shoulders too frequently. 

Ultimately, don’t let lean to one side while working, as this can bend your spine and eventually result to back pain.

Final Thoughts

Administering an ergonomic evaluation is a fundamental element, of the ergonomics method.

Your ergonomics development efforts will never get off the spot, without being able to efficiently evaluate situations in your work area, for musculoskeletal disorder risk factors.

Systematically performing ergonomic risk evaluations, provides you a fair view of the risk, existing in your workstations. 

This clear view of musculoskeletal disorder risk factors will let you efficiently communicate, and execute workplace enhancements.

Ergonomic evaluations are the source of the ergonomics development process, it’s essential, to be efficient, and effective with your evaluations.

Being able to initially identify musculoskeletal disorder risk factors at your workstation, is barely the beginning. 

Systematic workstation enhancements that affect key safety, productivity, and quality metrics, you must make sure you create these efforts on a firm foundation, with practical and effective ergonomic risk evaluations.

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