Ergonomic assessments are the best way of matching employees to the equipment they use and the tasks they perform. Whether working from the office, at home or in a vehicle, even subtle changes can offer major benefits.
Why Ergonomic Assessments Are an Important Tool
Ergonomic assessments are important because they can identify the risks associated with repetitive tasks, poor workstation setup and improper use of equipment. An expert in the ergonomics field can recommend changes that decrease the risk of injuries, reduce compensation claims and boost worker productivity.
What Happens After an Ergonomic Assessment?
Ergonomic assessments in the workplace sound like a good idea, but what happens next? Is the report left in an email inbox or printed and eventually filed? An ergonomic assessment is only as good as the action that happens after the therapist leaves the office. The assessment doesn’t keep workers safe from injury, it’s the recommendations that are actioned upon.
Ergonomic Assessment Report
Once the assessment has been completed, a report is prepared and provided to a worker or their employer. The report may contain a range of recommendations for changes and/or new products.
Purchasing Equipment and Support
An ergonomic assessment may recommend one or more pieces of equipment and/or support be purchased for a client. The assessment may include website links to the products so the organisation or individual can purchase the correct products quickly and easily. In some situations, the therapist who conducted the assessment makes the purchases on the client’s behalf.
Some of the common products that are purchased after an assessment are ergonomic office chairs. A good quality ergonomic chair is one that can be adjusted in multiple ways to fit the body shape of the user. The adjustments should include the height and angle of the seat, height and angle of the backrest, and armrest height if the chair has rests. Monitor and screen accessories can also make a big impact on the ergonomics of a workstation. Monitor and laptop stands can increase the height of the screen to the recommended eye level, and monitor arms make it possible to have two screens side by side at the most comfortable height.
Once the new equipment and/or supports are available, an occupational therapist may instruct their client on how to use the equipment effectively.
Liaise with Office Refit Providers
Some ergonomic assessments take place before an office refit or relocation to a new office. A visit to the existing workplace allows the therapist to observe the type of work that is completed and hear from staff about the ergonomic issues they have with the current workstations. Different departments and individuals have different requirements, so it’s ideal to assess a cross section of staff so that the needs of the majority of workers are considered in the written assessment report. Once the report is available, it can assist a range of suppliers from the architects, electricians and procurement officers, to human resources, office furniture suppliers and office fitout providers.
Redesigning a Workstation
For many employees, their current equipment is fine; it's the design and placement of workstation equipment that’s the problem. A poorly designed workstation can lead to injuries and frustrations. A therapist may go back to a workplace to rearrange the placement of a worker’s equipment to suit their body and work role.
Placement of the monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone, and chair can lead to straining and injuries of the fingers, wrists and arms. Ideal placement of objects can make a big difference in posture. Improved posture for an eight hour day, five days a week can make a big difference in comfort levels. A comfortable, pain-free employee is likely to be far more productive than if they were uncomfortable.
Training Employees in Ergonomics in the Workplace
Few people understand the finer details of maintaining a good posture at work to avoid injury and pain. A training session with the therapist can provide the information they need to develop good posture and work habits.
The ergonomic assessment may have only been for one staff member, but it can raise awareness of the importance of ergonomics for the whole organisation. Once management and staff hear of the changes that can be made, all staff can benefit.
Workplace Ergonomic Assessments Benefit Workers and the Organisation
An ergonomic assessment might seem like a big investment for some organisations but the returns to the employer and employee can be well worth it.
When an employee has had an ergonomic assessment done and the recommendations followed, they often feel that the organisation values them and the contribution they make to the organisation. Other employees like to know that the organisation cares for its staff and their health. It all helps to improve the morale and culture of an organisation.
Return on Investment
While ergonomic assessments can make the difference in keeping employees safe and comfortable at work, they also offer tangible benefits to the organisation. Improved staff morale and culture reduces staff turnover and increases productivity. Workers are also less likely to be absent from work and to leave a job when they feel that their employer is willing to commission an assessment and invest in good quality ergonomic equipment to keep them safe.
Sourcing Ergonomic Equipment After an Assessment
If you need help with finding the right ergonomic office equipment, Ergolink can help. We work with occupational therapists every day - supplying ergonomic equipment and support. Call us on 9240 7066 or contact us online.