Did you know that the position and posture that your workers assume while sitting at their desks might very well be leading to a number of serious, long-term health issues? The average worker spends between six and eight hours of every day sitting at their desks. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “work-related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2013, MSD cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases.”
Fortunately, there are several things that individual workers, human resource managers, and business owners can do to cut back on the frequency and severity of long-term musculoskeletal disorders from occurring. An ergonomic desk assessment is one of the best tools that can help workers discover some of the risk factors associated with how they spend long hours sitting at their desks.
Below, we will briefly explain how an ergonomic workstation assessment works, and some of the best practices for an ergonomic desk setup to help reduce MSD among your workforce.
What is an Ergonomic Workstation Assessment?
By definition, an ergonomic workstation assessment is a valuation or appraisal of a worker at their workspace that seeks to guarantee the best and safest working postures and workstation set-up.
In general, a quality ergonomic assessment is carried out in order to reduce a worker's possible exposure to physical hazards such as:
- Uncomfortable positions that put strain on joints, muscles, bones, and other parts of the body.
- Repetitive tasks that can also put excessive tension on certain parts of the body. In work situations where repetitive motions are hard to avoid, an ergonomic workstation assessment will look to implement measures to minimize the risks associated with those movements.
- Disproportionate amounts of time the body spends in specific positions. In some instances, a quality ergonomic workstation assessment can change how a specific worker cycles throughout the workday to reduce vulnerabilities to the development of musculoskeletal disease.
- Exposures to potentially dangerous environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, unsafe lighting arrangements, high noise levels, etc.
Furthermore, it is important to note that a quality ergonomic workstation assessment will also analyze the particular physical characteristics of the employee to determine any other specific physical hazards that he or she may confront during their workday. The overarching goal of every ergonomic workstation assessment is to reduce the likelihood of a worker developing MSD in the long run.
A quality ergo assessment can also improve the comfort levels of your workers, thus helping to improve company culture and even boost the productivity levels of your employees. Lastly, ergonomic workstation assessments can also help save companies money by reducing workers’ compensation payments and the number of days lost due to injury or sickness.
According to one analysis, workers across the United States experienced nearly 364 million work days lost due to musculoskeletal conditions, an average of 10 days per worker!
Best Practices for an Ergonomic Desk Setup
For companies that operate in an office-type setup, having the best ergonomic desk setup for your employees should be the prime concern when carrying out an ergonomic workstation assessment. Ensuring that your employees are working in the most ergonomically correct desk setup is key to avoid MSD problems in the long run. Some of the best practices for an ergonomic desk setup include:
- Find the best chairs for each individual worker where they can comfortably move their hips as far back as they can go in the chair while still ensuring that their feet are flat on the floor and their knees are equal to, or slightly lower than, their hips.
- Invest in ergonomic office chairs with easily adjustable heights to ensure the proper posture outlined above. Ergonomic office chairs should also allow workers to adjust the backrest to a 100° to 110° reclined angle, and be able to adjust the armrests so that your workers´ shoulders are relaxed.
- Place the computer monitor or screen directly in front of you, about an arm's length away. The top of the screen should be at or slightly below eye level. For workers with bifocals, the monitor should be lowered about two inches. Dual monitor setups also have ergonomic benefits for workers who spend long hours in front of the computer.
- Consider investing in workstations that allow workers to shift between working at a standing desk and at a sitting desk to change positions throughout the day.
Assess Your Desk Ergonomics With Work-Fit
Lastly, you might consider hiring a third-party independent contractor that can help your company develop the best ergonomic desk setup for all of your employees. Work-Fit is one leading company that offers onsite injury prevention, management, and employee wellness for your workforce.
We are the nationwide leader in applying sports medicine techniques in the workplace to prevent injuries and increase your company's bottom line. Our team of medical professionals can help your company design and implement effective strategies for optimizing the ergonomic design of all different types of workstations.
Our ergonomics program is a great resource to help your business generate savings on workers’ compensation by identifying the root cause of recurrent musculoskeletal disorders that keeps valuable workers away from the job. If you are interested in improving the ergonomics of your desk setup, contact us today to learn about how we can help your team!