Is It Ergonomic? 5 Ways You Can Tell If a Product Is Really Ergonomic


Office worker holding her neck in pain after sitting all day on a uncomfortable regular office chair

Any manufacturer can claim their goods are ergonomic with little onus on them to prove it. So it’s left to the consumer to decide if their claims are true. We’ll let you in on a few secrets, so you can tell if a product is really ergonomic or not.

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the study of the interaction between humans and systems with the goal of improving efficiency and compatibility. An ergonomic product is one that increases the ease of use and reduces the chance of a user sustaining an injury.

Ergonomic products are commonly found in offices. Products like ergonomic computer supplies are designed to reduce injuries and eye strain due to the repetitive nature of computer work. Ergonomic office equipment promotes good posture to reduce injuries.

Below are five questions you can ask yourself to decide if a product is really ergonomic.  

#1 Can the Product Be Fully Adjusted? 

Ergonomics works on the principle that a product should adjust to meet the needs of its user, not the other way around. A good way to check if a product is ergonomic is to fully adjust it. For example, a quality ergonomic office chair has multiple levers that let you adjust the seat and back of the chair for better support. Being able to adjust the height doesn’t make a chair ergonomic.   

#2 Is it Comfortable?

For many products and users, it’s important to try before you buy. Part of the reason is to check if you find the product comfortable to use. If it’s comfortable then chances are it’s ergonomic.

Designers of ergonomic equipment aim to make products that have a prime comfort factor. When a worker isn’t comfortable, they’re more likely to suffer from fatigue. Mental or physical exhaustion reduces a worker’s ability to perform their job safely and productively. 

But just because your workstation is comfortable, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave it regularly. Take breaks from your desk to get the circulation moving and reduce the chance of an injury.   

#3 Which Risk Factor Does the Product Overcome?

Ergonomic risk factors include awkward postures, physical strain, repetition, vibration and high forces. A product that is designed to reduce injuries caused by one of these risk factors can be considered ergonomic.

If an office chair is fully adjustable and comfortable, it’s likely to avoid the user sitting in an awkward posture. We can consider a power tool that causes less vibration than another to be more ergonomic. A sit-stand desk that uses a push-button instead of the worker’s strength to pull up the convertible desk is ergonomic. The design improvements make it more ergonomic than another.

#4 Will the Product Provide a Benefit?

Not all products have to reduce the risk of injury or be comfortable to be classified as ergonomic. While it’s important to reduce employee injuries and workers compensation costs, there are other productivity and job satisfaction benefits to consider.

A product is ergonomic if it can achieve one or more of the following benefits:

  • Improve job satisfaction

  • Increase commitment levels of staff

  • Increase work output

  • Improve quality of work

  • Reduce number of grievances

  • Promote more initiative and effort in tasks performed 

These benefits can produce a positive return on investment for an organisation. Only a slight increase in job satisfaction or work output over the 10 year life of a product can have significant savings.

#5 Is the Product Certified?

Some manufacturers of quality ergonomic equipment have had their products certified by The Australasian Furnishing Research and Development Institute (AFRDI).

The not-for-profit institute provides standards, tests, product certification and research for furniture buyers and sellers. Not all workplace equipment is suitable for certification, but office chairs, for example, are tested for strength and durability. Height adjustable office chairs receive one of the following three performance levels.

Level 4 – basic commercial applications

Level 5 – heavy commercial and industrial

Level 6 – severe commercial and heavy industrial

You can read more about AFRDI Product Certification here.    

For personalised information on ergonomic equipment that is most suitable for you, visit the Ergolink showroom, call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.