Workplace health and safety are topics that don’t see as much focus as they should. Proper ergonomics for employees will help reduce the incidence of workplace injury, but there are several other things that need to be done to really ramp up the healthiness of an office environment. While some of these changes can be done by individual employees, employers can do much more to enhance the health quality of the workplace. Below, you will find four important tips to increasing workplace and worker health.
Consider Standup Desks
When you think of a desk, chances are good that you picture the standard model – a flat surface a couple of feet off the floor with space for a chair and room underneath for the worker’s legs. While sit-down desks are still the norm, many companies are beginning to implement standup desks. These are designed to allow the employee to stand up and complete their duties, rather than sitting down. A mounting body of evidence suggests that long periods of sitting actually contribute to significant health problems.
Most workplaces use the most cost-effective type of lighting (usually fluorescents). However, that’s not necessarily the best option for creating a healthy workplace. Natural light is better for the eyes, improves vision and can also enhance mood and productivity. Letting in plenty of natural light is as simple as opening the blinds on your office’s windows. If your office lacks enough windows to make this feasible, look into lights that mimic natural sunlight’s wavelength and color.
Add a Fitness Area
Encouraging workers to take a break from the job and get their hearts pumping is actually a good thing for both your workers’ health and your company’s bottom line. It doesn’t have to be all that expensive, either. Find an unused office or area in your workplace and add a couple of treadmills and an elliptical machine or two. Encourage your employees to take periodic breaks and exercise. This gets them out of their sitting position, enhances blood flow and also improves overall health.
Encourage Healthier Eating
Lunch in an office environment is usually an unhealthy affair. Your employees might be wolfing down a massive burger and fries, or they might be eating quickly so they can get back to their responsibilities. They might be skipping lunch altogether. Encourage healthier eating in your employees. You can do this in a number of ways, including introducing meal plan suggestions, or hiring a healthy food vendor to come to the office. Of course, it helps if you (the manager or owner) are able to lead by example. Encourage your employees to take their entire lunchtime, too.
Creating a healthy workplace doesn’t have to require a revolutionary change. Small steps in the right direction can result in big improvements. Start small and think smart. Encourage your employees to get out of the rut and do things differently. Of course, you need to think differently as well.
The modern world has changed significantly in the past few decades. We’ve gone from having a mostly active lifestyle to a sedentary one. Even those who work out of the home spend the majority of their time sitting down. According to OSHA, 33% of all workplace accidents in 2011 were due to musculoskeletal problems stemming from poor ergonomics, and if you have a home office, that applies to you. Your office chair is the first line of defense against these dangerous health problems. How do you choose a good home office chair?
Pony Up the Cash
If you’ve taken a look at ergonomic office chairs recently, you know they’re not cheap. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality chair. With that being said, you can’t really get a bargain-basement chair and expect it to hold up. You get what you pay for in many cases. Be prepared to pay a little more for a decent chair (say, up to about $300).
Adjustability Is Paramount
The number one rule of ergonomics is that one size does not fit all. The more adjustments a home office chair features, the better it will be for you. Look for a chair with adjustable height and tilt so you can adjust it to fit your body perfectly. You should also look for models with adjustable armrests as well, particularly if you spend a good deal of your day typing at the keyboard. Adjustability is paramount – you must ensure that the chair you purchase can come as close as possible to a tailor-made position for your specific frame, height and weight.
As a note, the chair’s height adjustment should provide enough travel that you can leave your feet flat on the floor. If your feet are angled so your toes touch the floor but not your heels, or if they’re dangling in midair, you’ve got the wrong chair.
Comfort is an important consideration when buying a home office chair. Avoid thinly padded chairs and those without padding on the armrests. Mesh chairs are something of a different beast – the mesh features natural give to provide almost the same comfort as thick padding. In a padded chair, look for a model that features memory foam so it will mold to your body’s contours rather than flattening out across the entire seat through use.
There are two forms of lumbar support in the office chair world – thicker padding in the lumbar region and adjustable lumbar support (usually via a lever on the side of the chair’s back). Both can work well, but you’ll get better results out of a chair with adjustable lumbar support. Usually, extra padding will wear down and reduce the amount of support offered, even with a high quality chair. If possible, opt for a lumbar adjustable model.
With the right home office chair, you can ensure that you protect yourself from dangerous musculoskeletal injury, enhance your comfort and even work longer if necessary.
It’s true that, as the saying goes, we weren’t born yesterday. We think we know how to talk, walk, and sit down. However, so many of us do not sit in a chair properly. It might sound silly or seem pretty basic, but there are a number of ways that you can harm your body merely by how you sit. And as most people sit all day for their jobs, you could be placing a great deal of stress on the body due to the way you sit at your desk. In order to correct these bad patterns and postures, here are a few ways you should never sit in your office chair.
When most people sit down, they cross their legs or ankles. While this might be commonplace at your workplace, you will want to break this habit. You should sit at your office chair with your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet resting flat. If you cross your legs all day, you can develop knee problems. Crossing your legs also impairs blood flow to your legs, which can lead to pains and cramps. You also don’t want to sit at your desk with your legs dangling above the ground and crossed. This will lead to poor blood circulation.
Leaning away from the back of the chair
We all are guilty of bad posture from time to time. However, if you notice how you sit at the office, you might discover that your back is seldom resting against the backrest of the chair. If you lean away from the back of the chair to read computer screens, write, or talk on the phone, you are placing unnecessary stress on your back. Your back isn’t supported in this position, which can produce a great deal of pain. One way to kick the habit of leaning in your chair is to purchase a chair that is ergonomically designed so that it will promote good posture.
Legs stretched out parallel to the floor on a footrest
At your desk, you might pull up another chair to rest your legs and feet. However, your legs should never be resting parallel to the floor on a footrest. While it might sound comfortable and even look more comfortable, it can actually lead to a great deal of discomfort. This practice does not promote good circulation to the legs. Poor blood flow can only make you feel more tired on the job.
You might think that there is really no wrong way to sit down. You bend your legs and rest your upper body on a surface. However, you can contort your body into different positions that you fail to notice over time. It is merely the way you always sit down. Those positions could be hurting your body more than helping it. The effects of how you sit can be both physical and mental. In order to promote the best health possible as you sit at your job, remember to avoid sitting in these three positions.