3 Ways Poor Ergonomics Can Cause Pain and Injury


Man struggling with back pain while working at his desk due to poor ergonomics.

Most people interpret pain and injury as being the result of an unfortunate accident. In some cases, people fail to realise that similar debilitating outcomes can occur over a long period. Poor ergonomics at work and home are to blame for many Australians suffering pain that not only reduces their work productivity, but also their quality of life.

What is Poor Ergonomics? 

Ergonomics is ensuring that your work/office environment and setup is designed in a way that minimises the risk of physical injury and strain. So, if the environment isn’t suitable for the user, the ergonomics are considered poor.

Poor Ergonomics in the Workplace

There are many examples and situations that occur throughout workplaces (including from home) that could either be considered as poor ergonomics, or be a direct result of poor ergonomics.

#1 Poor Posture

A poor seated posture can cause muscle weakness in several areas of the body. A non-ergonomic chair that doesn’t allow the user to adjust to their body shape is often the cause of poor posture. An ergonomic chair gives you the flexibility you need, but an even better alternative is to switch between sitting and standing during the workday with a sit-stand desk. These desks will help you maintain a better posture and help to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and back pain. Energy levels and blood circulation can also be improved by not sitting in one position all day.

While getting used to working at a height adjustable desk can take some time, you’ll notice the benefits of having the flexibility to change up your workstation, and the difference that it makes, in the long run.

#2 Layout of the Workstation

When workers need to reach or stretch for commonly used items, they’re risking an injury. Try to keep everything you use regularly, such as the mouse and telephone, at a comfortable arm’s length. If your mouse is well back from the desk edge, you may benefit from a wrist rest. Don’t place items above your head if you can help it and ensure the floor is kept clear.

#3 Poor Work From Home Setup

The workplace isn’t only to blame for causing injuries. People are working from home in less than ideal ergonomic conditions. Sitting at the kitchen table or from the lounge for long hours could contribute to high numbers of poor ergonomic-related injuries. Wherever you work, it’s important you use the right ergonomic equipment.

Impact of Poor Ergonomics

Musculoskeletal injuries are the number one cause of workers compensation claims. There are a range of factors that cause these injuries, but poor ergonomics is high on the list.

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal tunnel is a debilitating condition caused by the median nerve being squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist. It causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hand and forearm, and usually gets progressively worse. Prolonged or repetitive flexing of the wrist can cause the carpal tunnel to narrow, particularly when it’s cold. Good posture and an ergonomic mouse can reduce the risks, as well as ensuring a correct ergonomic keyboard and mouse setup.


Tendonitis is an inflamed or irritated tendon anywhere in the body, but it’s a common injury in the wrist and elbow, where the tendon gradually deteriorates due to overuse or repetition. An ergonomic assessment to ensure you have the right equipment and setup can help protect tendons from excessive strain.


Bursitis is inflammation of a bursa, a fluid filled sac that acts as a cushion between tissues of the body. The most common areas for bursitis to occur are the shoulders, hips and elbows. Repetitive motions and positions are the main cause of bursitis. Using an ergonomic chair or lumbar support can help.


Many workers suffer from regular headaches and often their poor posture is to blame. A poor posture can irritate the spine or cause neck muscles to spasm which can lead to cervicogenic headaches. The forward head posture is one of the main causes of spinal irritation and neck spasms, leading to headaches. A good quality ergonomic chair that encourages the user to sit back in the chair and to keep their hips, back, neck and head in line is ideal. Being able to view the screen without glare will also reduce the chance that the user will crane their head forward.

If you would like to know more about the ideal ergonomic setup for your office, including the use of ergonomic chairs, give us a call on 9240 7066 or contact us online.