Ergonomics/ PostureHealth and Lifestyle Tips

Workplace Ergonomics: An Overview

overview: workplace ergonomics

What is Ergonomics?

The word “Ergonomics” was actually derived from two Greek words – ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws.
To put it simply, it is the study of the kind of work you do, the work environment you have, and the equipment you use to do your job. Its objective is to design your office workspace in a way that fits you and the job you are doing. Proper ergonomic design enhances your effectiveness and efficiency with work and other activities. It is very important to both health and safety as well, as it helps prevent postural tension and other physical injuries which can develop over time and can lead to long-term disability.

Poor Ergonomics and Health Risks

Though may sound easy, improving the Ergonomic design of your office or home is not that simple. Oftentimes, it is done poorly which can put our bodies at risk. Have you experienced getting aches or pains when doing tasks or using tools in your home or office? Take back pain as an example. Back pain is worse at certain times of day or week, maybe after a long day of computer work or when you got a new chair. Though the pain might go away after switching positions, it still comes back after a couple of minutes or so. Scenarios like this may be the result of poor ergonomic design – meaning, your workspace might not be designed to fit you.

[expand title=”Risk factors for trauma disorders”]

Poor ergonomics can cause heavy damage that can affect the whole body, especially the arms, hands and back/ spine. Among the risk factors for trauma disorders of the arm and hand are:

  • Staying in the same position, whether sitting or standing, for long hours/ periods of time
  • Repetitive activities that making the same motion. The longer you repeat the same movement, the greater the risk.
  • Powerful, forced exertions, particularly with arms and hands. The combination of repetitive motion and force, such as pushing on a tool over and over, is a particular risk.
  • Awkward body postures, such as twisting your wrists to perform tasks.
  • Using hand tools that either don’t fit the job or don’t fit the hand.
  • Excessive power tool vibration.

Among the risk factors of back injury are:

  • Bending or Slouching the back.
  • Lifting from below the knees or above the shoulders, or worse, above the head.
  • Twisting at the waist, especially while lifting.
  • Lifting or moving objects that are too heavy.
  • Lying in an awkward position.
  • Sitting or standing for long periods of time, especially if you have poor posture.

Other risk factors involving other parts of the body:

  • External compression and stress to the body
  • Prolonged exposure to vibration
  • Workplace temperature
  • Ineffective lighting conditions
  • Psychosocial factors


[expand title=”Reducing Risks and Improving Ergonomic Design”]

Jobs, tasks, or working environments combined with risk factors increase the risk for developing discomfort and other injuries. The level of risk depends on the time period, occurrence, and intensity, as well as the worker’s genetic make-up and their physical condition.
Luckily, there can be ways to improve work safety in terms of ergonomics. You can either reduce the ergonomic risks or you can reduce the worker’s exposure to the risks. Both can be done through redesigning, like adjusting workspace arrangement or replacing equipment to improve safety. These includes modifying heights and layouts of office chairs, desks, keyboard, computer screen, and other things that should be arranged correctly for efficient use. When a risk cannot be eliminated through the redesign process, other processes should be considered such as reducing or eliminating awkward postures, modifying the method of performing tasks or adjusting schedules and work routines. You may opt to have a professional evaluate your ergonomics which can be very effective at reducing risks and improving safety at home or workplace. It might not be that affordable but at least the payoff might be worth it.
However, while it is good to invest in tools or equipment you need to improve your ergonomics, it is essential to put into account the most important thing in your workstation, which is yourself. Even without an ergonomist, you can actually help yourself create a workplace in which you can work productively and comfortably. Often, we brush off the symptoms that could help us identify physical problems at an early stage. Ignoring these is the worst possible thing to do. Since it is you who knows when you are experiencing pain and strain, you’re also the one who’s best able to determine what tasks, equipment, and positions cause those symptoms. By being alert with your senses, you can help yourself identify the causes of injury as well as the practical solutions for it.[/expand]

[expand title=”How do I know if my workstation is set up right?”]

Most probably you are working in good condition if:

  • You feel comfortable with your position and with what you’re doing.
  • You are less likely to have problems such as headaches or eyestrain.
  • You have reduced neck and back pain.
  • You have less or NO pain-related problems that are linked to doing repetitive tasks.
  • You have less or NO pain-related problems that are linked to staying in the same position


proper workplace ergonomics
You can feel it if your workspace is just right for you.

As mentioned previously, you must always pay attention to how your body feels when you’re working. Try to identify what causes pain, numbness or other symptoms. You will feel it if your workspace is correctly set for you.

Related Articles:
Posture, Movements and Ergonomics
Preventing Pains and Strains in the Workplace

At North Shore Chiropractic, we provide a variety of comprehensive health programs to promote good health practices within your workplace. We have programs that contribute to improved health and injury risk as well as improved workplace overall performance and job satisfaction.

For starters, we have an Essential Power Seminar that we can conduct at your place of work, business, sports or social club. In this seminar, will teach you how to be more ergonomically aware – this includes correcting beds, pillows & desk setup.

To book, you can Contact us or visit our Seminars Page.