Ergonomics improves productivity and well-being at work
Have you paid attention to the methods of transferring objects, the placement and accessibility of tools, the opportunities to perform one’s work either sitting down or standing up, and lighting at your workplace? All the above are part of ergonomic workstation design, and companies that have paid attention to these have been able to significantly improve their productivity.
However, good ergonomics means more than the ability to adjust a workstation’s furniture. Improving ergonomics requires knowing the work process from start to finish, but most importantly, identifying the individual needs of the job and the employee. Developing the working environment and working methods pays off, as it helps the company reduce the amount of sick leave and the number of accidents at work, improve the quality of work, and increase efficiency and production volumes. Employees who work in a pleasant environment are more energetic and productive.
According to a study carried out by the University of Warwick in 2014, employees whose job satisfaction is low are 10 per cent less productive compared to the average employee, whereas employees with high job satisfaction are 12 per cent more productive than the average employee.
High performance every day
An ergonomic workstation enables employees to perform at their best, every day. Ergonomic working environments make performing one’s work effortless and safe. All the components and tools are within easy reach, which eliminates the need to bend the body or stretch the arms, which in turn reduces tension, strain, and discomfort. This helps prevent musculoskeletal disorders, which affect more than one out of five working-age people. Occupational musculoskeletal disorders caused by poorly designed working methods and working positions not only cause physical strain to employees, but also burden companies and society as a whole through sick leave, incapacity for work, and decreased productivity.
See a short animation below on the differences between poor and proper workspace ergonomics and learn 6 practical things on how to improve the ergonomics.
How to make the workplace more ergonomic
For 40 years, Treston has been a pioneer in designing ergonomic furniture and work environments. The starting point for the design and implementation of our workstations and workplace furniture is always the person doing the work and the work task itself. Ergonomically designed process steps make work more efficient and improve safety.
With its clear practical examples, the e-book shows how companies can holistically improve ergonomics at work.
Identify the starting point and make a plan
Identify the problem areas and processes, observe, and talk to the employees. Make a plan for the investments and indicators that are related to safety, production volumes, and efficiency.
Interview and observe
Talk to the employees and observe them while they use their workstations and tools, and work with others. Examine the shifts and job rotation. Let history guide you and review the accident reports.
Gather the troops
Engage all the interested parties. In the long run, it will make decision-making and deployment faster. Explain what benefits the change will bring to the employees and to the company. Ergonomics can genuinely be a win-win situation.
Look beneath the ‘surface’
The following should be taken into account when choosing ergonomic furniture and equipment for a workstation:
* Does the work involve sitting down, standing up, or both?
Research results show that even the tiniest amount of movement helps improve memory, attention, learning, and the employee’s cognitive performance as a whole. The efficiency of a person who mainly does their work sitting down can be improved by giving them a workbench with electric motor height adjustment, which lets them stand up while working. A person who mainly does their work standing up would benefit from a footrest and a stool.
* Is the height of the workbench suitable for the employee and the tasks?
The appropriate workbench height is normally 60–75 cm for work that involves writing, and 75–110 cm for working in a standing position. The person should be able to rest their hands and look at the screen comfortably, and objects should be within easy reach.
* Which type of chair would be best?
Among other features, the chair should have height, back, and tilt adjustment, so that the chair can be adjusted according to the size of the user and the height of the worktop.
* How does lighting affect work?
Good lighting minimises the strain on the brain when processing information, which in turn prevents headaches and fatigue. In assembly work, the normal illuminance varies between 300 and 1,000 lx.
* Which tools are needed for the work?
The placement and distance of the tools should be optimised. Heavy tools can be brought to the workstation on a trolley, or a tool balancer can be fitted to a workstation. Workstation accessories with arms and video display terminals (VDT) are adaptable to the needs of various users.
If an employee uses one minute more per hour to reach for parts, in a workplace of ten employees, this amounts to: 10 people x 220 days x 8 hours x 1 minute => 36 workdays per year.