The Importance of Ergonomics

In Ireland, approximately 4.05 million days are lost due to absenteeism at work costing the economy €490 million (Small Firms Association). Included in the six main causes of absences are musculoskeletal injuries at 44% and back pain at 35% the most common among office workers.

Ergonomics is the study of comfort and efficiency in a workplace, and when implemented correctly, ergonomic design helps to reduce discomfort at work which increases productivity, wellness and employee satisfaction. From the perspective of an employer, this reduces absenteeism and increases employee welfare and employee engagement.

More and more companies are seeing the investment in ergonomics as a sound investment and significant evidence suggests that the presence of a companywide approach to health and wellness has long-term financial benefits.

In earlier articles, we discussed how Office Interior Design needs to respond to your way of working and ergonomics needs to play a pivotal role in this.

We tend to work longer hours and the landscape of the modern office is continually evolving, requiring a greater emphasis on our health and wellbeing in the workplace. Hence the need for an ‘active workplace’.

Finding furniture that adjusts to the user, promotes movement and counteracts the traditional office standard of being desk-bound is key. An active workplace is a concept that encourages balance so workers – whether in traditional work set-ups or in-home offices – can build more activity into their daily routine for long term health benefits.

A variety of work tools achieve these long term health benefits such as sit-stand desks, monitor arms for suitable screen positioning, task lighting to improve visual comfort and ergonomic task chairs designed to offer multiple levels of support and support the users own body weight whilst encouraging movement.

Manufacturers like Humanscale are at the top of the league when it comes to ergonomically designed future, and have firmly established themselves as the global leader, combining elegant design with ergonomic functionality, designing intuitive products which improve the comfort and health of office workers via a range of commercial furniture and office accessories.

Ergonomics is not just limited to how you furnish your office or how you design your corporate interior. Ergonomics needs to extend to include activity outside the office also. Sitting all day might be unhealthy, but standing all day can damage our health, too.

As a trained Ergonomics Evaluator, I strongly recommend that our clients ensure their teams introduce more micro-breaks of 30-60 seconds into the workday and that they strike a balance between seating and standing positions. Research has shown that standing for 15 minutes every hour invigorates the mind and body, boosts circulation and allows muscles to stretch and refresh.

Our expertise in ergonomics, coupled with our partnership with Humanscale is evident in many of the projects we are involved in.  A fine example would be Deloitte’s office at  3 Park Place – for which Reddy Architecture + Urbanism were recently awarded ‘Best Medium-Sized Office Fit Out’. We delivered a mix of fixed and height-adjustable workstations, ergonomic task seating by Humanscale, meeting and training room furniture, along with a complete loose furniture package, meeting the exact requirements of Deloitte who have nearly 3,000 people in Ireland and ensuring this new office space facilitated a variety of functions to ensure focused and collaborative types of work.

About the Author:

Michelle Leyden is the Commercial Director of Bizquip and heads up the Commercial Interiors aspect of the business.

Michelle is also a certified office ergonomics evaluator who works with clients to achieve ergonomic workplace design.



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