It’s not as dangerous (or expensive) to incorporate ergonomics in the office as many people think - in fact, you can save money on it in the long run.
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work? Do you hang up your coat? Do you make a cup of coffee? Do you turn on your computer?
Our guess is that you turn on your computer. Even if it’s not the first thing you do, it’s most likely something you manage to do within your first few minutes in the office. Working at a computer is a big part of the working day for many people, and also something that often occupies a large proportion of the hours of the working day. Unfortunately, long hours in front of your computer can hurt both your body and your wallet.
Many office workers suffer from discomfort or pain, which can be traced directly back to working in front of their computer.
A Danish study from 2019 shows that two thirds of office employees experience physical pain, such as pain in the neck and wrist, caused by poor posture at their computer. This kind of wear and tear can result in sick leave, which is not fun for the worker who’s in pain or the employer who, at least for a period of time, has to pay the bills.
Fortunately, according to the Industry Community for the Working Environment for Welfare and Public Administration in Denmark (BFA), it’s easy and inexpensive to do something about the problem.
All that’s required are a few adjustments in the way you work and purchase of the right equipment. Fortunately, the latter isn’t a big expense if you compare with sick leave, which on average costs a company about 1300 € a week.
Get rid of pain before it occurs
Before you throw yourself into purchasing the grand package of equipment, you should understand the basic conditions of good ergonomics.
Did you know:
38% of all sick leavers are sedentary office workers.
Bedrifternes kostnader ved sykefravær, Sintef Rapport 2011
Making sure that workers can take regular breaks from computer work is the first thing you need to make sure of.
A good idea is to make it a rule that no one arrives at the office, sits at their desk, and then works intensively in that spot for eight hours at a time. This approach to computer work is quite unhealthy.
In the long run, sedentary and repetitive computer work will cause discomfort or pain, which will in turn reduce commitment, efficiency, and job satisfaction from the worker.
Variation in posture is important, and this message must be shared far and wide.
This is how your workstation should be equipped
Once you’ve made sure that your workers can take regular breaks, it’s time to take a closer look at what your workstation lacks in order to offer a good ergonomic setup.
An ergonomically correct workstation
Overall, a good computer workstation requires five things.
An ergonomic chair
A height adjustable desk
A correctly set and positioned screen
A keyboard that suits you and tends to tilt negatively
An ergonomic mouse
An ergonomic chair, height adjustable desk, and adjustable screen are the norm in most Danish workplaces, but when it comes to ergonomic keyboards and mice, many are still lagging behind.
It’s a pity when we know that good ergonomic solutions put the least strain on your body and thus pose the least risk of you getting injuries caused by poor posture.
An ongoing study (2021), which compares muscle activity using different types of mice, conducted by pathologist Eduardo Alcaraz Marteos shows, among other things, that a centred mouse with a rolling bar - compared to nine other types of mice - is the type of mouse that requires the least muscle activity, when using it.
At the same time, a Harvard study in 2015 showed that a roller mouse was the mouse that allowed work with the most neutral hand positions and with the least finger and stretching, while also requiring significantly lower activity in the forearm extension muscle.
Overall, good keyboard and mouse ergonomics are about having a keyboard allowing a neutral hand position when you type (this can happen if the keyboard has a negative incline so your hands do not have to tilt up to type) and about getting the mouse in front the body so that both hands can be used and the arms and shoulders do not repeatedly have to go into unnatural positions.
So, it’s a good idea to replace your old mouse with an ergonomic model, both if you already have pain or if you want to prevent pain. With that investment, you can prevent and potentially completely avoid frustrating and expensive mouse-related sick leave.