Few corporations have done more to advance health-beneficial design than Humanscale. From conducting research in new materials and forms for workers to interact with, to studying the very nature of the modern workplace itself to determine how our everyday actions can be improved from an ergonomic standpoint, Humanscale has been at the forefront of human-centered design.
In the workplace, ergonomics is used, says the National Institute of Health, to find the best fit between the worker and their job conditions. Effective ergonomic design can reduce injuries, discomfort, and increase job satisfaction and efficiency, explains the UCLA Ergonomics department. Ergonomic design is a proactive approach. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains that instead of reactively trying to identify health problems and the job risk factors linked to them, a proactive approach attempts to prevent these problems from ever occurring. In the workplace, this approach may include choosing ergonomic furniture and equipment based on set ergonomic guidelines to improve employee health.
According to the World Health Organization, “work-related” diseases are complex because there are a number of factors that contribute to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). MSDs are injuries that affect the muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and spinal discs. UCLA explains that although MSDs may be common in the workplace because of poor ergonomic posture, these injuries can be reduced when proper ergonomics are employed. It’s important to be aware of the factors that can lead to MSDs in the workplace. UCLA says common risk factors include awkward posture, stress and pressure on the body, vibration, and excessive repetition or force. Employers and employees alike have a responsibility to educate one another about these risks and the ergonomic principles that can greatly reduce the likelihood of developing an injury or illness.
University Health Services at the University of California at Berkeley admits that eighty percent of adults will likely experience some type of lower back pain in their lifetime. Low back pain can be a major source of discomfort in the workplace. Without the proper chair back support and ergonomic furniture, many workers experience these common body aches and pains, which can lead to long-term health problems.
Ergonomic furniture is designed with the user or worker in mind. Ergonomic designers have created chairs, desks, and sofas that support the body and increase circulation. The CDC created general ergonomic design principles to use when evaluating ergonomic furniture for the workplace. A common characteristic of ergonomic furniture is adjustability. An ergonomic chair, for example, may have knobs or levers to allow the user to make adjustments so they have the optimum chair back support. The CDC also recommends a chair with an adjustable height and a five-leg base to provide stability. Ergonomic furniture for the workplace may also include a workstation or desk. Having sufficient room to move and work is important, says the CDC, and workstations should be adjustable to fit people of all different sizes and shapes.
Office furniture can provide great health benefits for employees both now and in the future. By taking a proactive approach to ergonomics in the workplace, workers can increase their circulation and blood flow, which ultimately will help them think more clearly and work more efficiently. In addition to increased productivity, an ergonomic approach to daily activities can prevent serious health problems like MSDs and back pain from developing.