Week 3 – Space Management: Ergonomics – Work Station Comfort (Originally Published on GetConnected.com)

Clare Kumar Writes About Work Station Comfort – Photo Courtesy of GetConnected.com

Clare Kumar - October 3, 2010

By Clare Kumar

Numerous studies show a direct link between comfort at your workstation and productivity. In fact, a summary of 250 studies on the impact of ergonomic equipment shows average productivity gains of 25%. Add to that the benefit of avoiding serious and sometimes permanent musculoskeletal injuries (such as low back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome) and it makes sense to invest time into making sure your office space suits your body and your work.

As defined by the Association of Canadian Ergonomists, ergonomics is the science that examines the interaction between humans and the other elements in a system to optimize human well-being and overall system performance. Bottom line, if you’re comfortable then you’ll get more accomplished.

Here are two important ergonomic considerations for your workspace:

1. The Chair

Consider this the driver’s seat in your office. Imagine going for a long drive in an uncomfortable car seat? That’s exactly what you may be doing every day if your chair isn’t designed to support you.

The chair must place you in the correct position for work. Since people come in all shapes and sizes, this means one chair does not fit all.

When selecting an office chair, look for adjustability in

* Chair Height – your feet should be flat on the floor and thighs parallel to the floor
* Seat – the seat should place no pressure on the backs of your knees
* Arm Rests – shoulders should be supported in a neutral position at the correct width for your body
* Back Tilt – the level of tension and degree of tilt in the chair back should be adjustable
* Stability – a five wheelbase is ideal

If you have an adjustable chair, be sure to learn how to use it. One worker had the same chair for 5 years and didn’t know how to adjust it. A five-minute review of the chair’s functionality had profound and immediate effects on his comfort and productivity.

2. The Work Surface

Many modular office systems offer the ability to adjust the height of fixed work surfaces. The ideal desk height for a man of 6’2” is not appropriate for a woman who is 5’4”. If your work surface can be an adjusted, take advantage of it.

If you cannot adjust the height of your work surface, use a combination of seat height adjustments and a footrest to place you in the correct posture.

There are also height adjustable desks (manual and power-operated) which allow you to vary your working position from sitting to standing, reducing pressure on the lower back and increasing comfort. In fact, incorporating standing periods into your workday engages the large muscles in your legs and increases your metabolic rate. Studies show that people who had sit-stand desks changed their position 3-4 times a day.

Coming up next in the series: Space Management: Ergonomics – Using Your Computer Safely

Disclaimer – For information and reference purposes only and not intended as legal or professional advice. The adoption of the practices described may not meet the needs, requirements or obligations of individual workplaces.

ACCO BRANDS CANADA is proud to sponsor this 10 week series on organizing your workspace leading up to ORGANIZE YOUR DESK DAY on October 21, 2010. Get the tools you need to get organized from world-class brands such as Swingline, Quartet, Day-Timer, GBC, Kensington, and Wilson Jones. Clare Kumar, founder and Chief Organizer at Streamlife, an organizing company, will take you on a practical and inspiring journey from chaos and clutter to productivity and peace of mind.

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