The impact of ergonomics in our working society

Due to the situation at our workplace we mostly sit the whole day and hardly move. Therefore a lot of people suffer from postural deformities and one of the most common work related injuries is probably back pain.

The solution to solve the problem of our akinesic working society is to create an ergonomic friendly workplace. Ergonomics ` is a scientific discipline,  which is concerned with improving the productivity, health, safety and comfort of people, as well as promoting effective interaction among people, technology and the environment in which both must operate.´ (See ncsu.edu) To keep it briefly ergonomics could be seen as `the science of work´.

What do you think: How long does this way of thinking of a health-friendly work environment exist?  Seems pretty young, doesn´t it? – At least I thought so, but surprisingly this assumption is completely wrong. Hence Hippocrates (c. 460 BC –c. 370 BC) already described how the workplace of surgeon´s should be designed and how their tools should be arranged the best.

In fact the origin of the word ergonomic comes from Greek and means “work” (Έργον) and “natural laws”(Νόμος). Even though the intellectual people of the past already had an idea of the importance of this term we all know that no one paid a lot of attention to the well-being, health and feelings of the workers over the last centuries.

Due to the fact that the first labor union in the U.S. has been launched in 1866, which was the first step to improve the working conditions and to establish labor rights. And how should anybody even think of an environmentally friendly workplace without even having labor rights?

Thanks to the psychologist Hywel Murrell the impact of ergonomics increased. Furthermore his researches led to the foundation of `the Ergonomics Society´ ( built in 1957), which was a big milestone for the research of human factors and the field of ergonomics.

Here are some tips how you could make your workplace a little bit more ergonomically friendly:

1. Ever heard of the 40, 60, 90 rule?

Work equipment that you use quite often such as your mouse, keyboard and phone should be easy to reach and should have no more than a 40cm distance from the corner of your table. Whereas things, which you use less frequently like a hole punch or stapler should have a distance of about 60-90cm.
Nowadays ergonomics go off the idea that every single implement should be ready to hand from the sitting position. Therefore it is a good to have folders and books a few meters apart from your work table in a shelf. This automatically entails that you move regularly and prevents the occurrence of postural deformities.

2. Rethink your setting of  light and temperature!

Daylight is the perfect lightning. If that isn´t enough neon lamps are a better option than bulbs, as these just give selective light. Moreover it is the best to have an extra lamp for the writing desk. Especially if you are working in a bigger room with other people.
The ideal room temperature is 21 – 23° C as you easily get dozy if it is heating up. Elsewise just open your window frequently to get a nice fresh breeze of fresh air. Moreover a light breeze of wind might even help you to get new ideas or to focus again.

3. Pay attention to your brain!

It is important that you know that what works for someone else may not work for you. Given that there are two extreme types of officers, the slobs and the sticklers.
The slobs seem to go under their chaos but somehow find everything they need at the moment. They think cross-linked and work on several projects at a time. Thus their right brain hemisphere is dominant. Accordingly for the sticklers the left hemisphere is the dominating one. The stickler could never get along with chaos, his table is always tidy, he works at one project at a time and is in favor of leaving his workplace with finishing one step of a procedure to have an empty table in the next morning.
What do you think which type are you?

Would be great to hear if you tried one of these tips and if they helped. Do you have some more tips for an ergonomically workplace?

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3 responses to “The impact of ergonomics in our working society

  1. Hey Korinna,
    It is really nice how you present your blogs connected with sports or at least sports-related topics…I did not know either that ergonomics is such an old term and I would have expected it to be probably of the mids of the 20th century. I like the rules you presented here and I have not heard about the 40,60-90 rule and I have not heard about the two types you presented us in the “Pay attention to you brain” section”…I think I am a really big slob-type, because I use to have chaos on my desk but I can see through it… I do not know real other tips, but for back pain I have heard that swimming is the ideal sport to prevent or to cure it. Your blog is great!

  2. Hey Korinna,

    as I was sitting in front of my table for several hours now, I loved your blog post, because I know the problem of back pain and I always thought my very confortable chair will make it better.

    I am already using some of the hints you offered like opening the window from time to time. However, I loved the aspect of 40-60-90, because I was not aware of it, but it makes so much sense to place your folders in a way that you HAVE to move.

    It was nice that you gave a quick overview about the history as well as the entire topic and the length was just right.

    I,myself, am also trying to avoid an unhealthy nutrition with a lot of sugar, because this just makes me want more and disturbs my entire work flow.

    If you are further interested in the topic visit: http://www.publichealthgreybruce.on.ca/WorkplaceWellness/2-WhatMakesAWorkplaceHealthy.htm

  3. Pingback: The importance of seeing team members as individuals | BLOG OR DIE TRYIN'·

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