office ergonomics

Using office ergonomics to reduce the risk of injury

This month, Evoke Projects will post a series of articles to help you manage your Workplace Health & Safety risks. This month’s 4 topics will be:

  • Using office ergonomics to reduce the risk of injury
  • Staying up-to-date with WHS requirements
  • Is your office design increasing your employees’ risk of long-term illness?
  • WHS considerations for office refurbishments

Using office ergonomics to reduce the risk of injury

Employers have a duty of care to provide a safe office environment for employees.

The focus is often on obvious dangers such as chemicals, trip hazards and electrical risks. But there are other risk factors that may lead to injury and potential liability. These include repetitive tasks, heavy lifting and poor posture. Incorporating good ergonomics into the office design can help reduce the risk of these injuries.

Ergonomic office chairs

Back strain is the most common cause of absenteeism in Australia. Adjustable height and tilt ergonomic office chairs provide back support and improve employee posture. Armrests are not always required for good posture—in fact, workers who spend a lot of time typing may find their shoulders are forced into an awkward position by an armrest. Always ensure the ergonomic chair matches the task requirements and individual needs of everybody.

Filing and storage for ergonomic office design

Storage and space planning is important for good office ergonomics:

  • Store heavy items, such as photocopy paper, close to its place of use. If paper cannot be located close to the copier, staff should take one or two reams as and when required, rather than carrying a whole box and leaving it as a trip hazard.
  • Provide a trolley close to your reception or delivery desk to avoid staff having to carry heavy boxes.
  • File frequently used documents at a height that avoids excessive bending.
  • Ensure that storage cupboards do not open onto walkways.
  • Select good quality office filing cabinets that open and close smoothly, having anti-tilt mechanisms is a must.

Avoid repetitive strain in the office

With increasing electronic communication, it is difficult to avoid some repetitive tasks, such as typing and mouse operation. Interestingly, senior managers can be at an increased risk of repetitive strain because they are not used to typing and haven’t been trained to do so.

  • Offer keyboard training to all staff.
  • Design the office layout so that people have to leave their desks regularly and stretch their legs; for example, to use a communal printer and photocopier hub.
  • Provide monitors and full size keyboards that can be hooked up to laptops for days that are spent in the office.

Ergonomic office furniture shouldn’t stop at chairs

Ergonomic workstations should be part of every office interior design because the chair is only part of the posture equation. Height-adjustable desks or stand-up desks that can be used for part of the day can help prevent back strain and muscle and joint problems. A true ergonomic office will also incorporate adjustable monitor stands and document holders.

Evoke Projects designs and manages office refurbishments and fit-outs and specialises in flexible and ergonomic office design as we understand that we are made to move. Please contact us on 1300 720 692 for more information.

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