Four Key Tips for Creating a Healthier Workplace

Healthy Workplace

 

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.

 

Allseating- Wall Trax Computer Mounting System - Configuration 3

Allseating- Wall Trax Computer Mounting System – Configuration 3 at Sitbetter.com’s Headquarters

 

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.

 

ESI - PIXIE Small Profile LED Task Lighting

ESI – PIXIE Small Profile LED Task Lighting

Lighting

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.

 

Treadmill and Manual Height Standing Desk for Light Usage

Treadmill and Manual Height Standing Desk for Light Usage

 

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.

 

Sources:

http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=162652

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html?_r=2&

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/10-ways-to-make-workplace-healthier-productive/#axzz2aiZoZD8r

 

What Makes a Good Home Office Chair?

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).

Eurotech Ergohuman - Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair with Headrest

Eurotech Ergohuman – Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair with Headrest

 

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.

Ergocentric - myCentric Ergonomic Office Chair

Ergocentric – myCentric Ergonomic Office Chair

 

Padding

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.

 

Lumbar Support

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.

 

Sources:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/

 

Three Ways to Never Sit in Your Office Chair

Three Ways to Never Sit in Your Office Chair

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.

 

Legs crossed

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.

 

 

 

Unusual Ergonomics- A Look at Some Odd Shaped Chairs

If you have ever stepped into an office or place of business that values just where its employees sit, you probably did a few double takes about just what constitutes a chair these days. Ergonomic chair shapes have never been confused for the common and ordinary. Many are designed to look a little weird so that your back doesn’t feel awkward or strange. Here are just a few of the most unusual shapes that you might find in these ergonomically designed forms of seating.

 

The Original Evolution Exercise Ball Chair

The Original Evolution Exercise Ball Chair

 

 

The Ball Chair

 

When most people think of an ergonomic chair shape, they might picture various backrest heights and wave-like seating. However, there are even more unique-looking options, such as the ball chair, popular in newer workspaces and on the startup scene. The idea behind such a sitting implement is to lend the user better balance and posture, along with improved core strength. As there is no backrest on a ball chair, the user has to stay balanced. The result is decreased back pain compared to other places to sit around the office. The ball chair looks very much like an exercise ball. In fact, some models permit you to remove the ball from the wheelbase and use it for exercises.

 

RFM Verte - Executive Ergonomic Chair with Black Frame

RFM Verte – Executive Ergonomic Chair with Black Frame

 

The Pseudo Spine Chair

 

In terms of strange-looking seating, chairs designed with a pseudo spine tend to take the cake. These spine replicas could be mistaken for an insect’s exoskeleton. They are designed to replicate and cradle the spine and the back. The user can customize the pressure and support by adjusting the “ribs” of the chair. The main reason that a company might shell out for such an odd-looking chair is for its proven assistance with chronic back pain. For example, the RFM Verte Executive Ergonomic Chair, designed with a pseudo spine, has been known to help back pain sufferers. This form of seating looks strange with its spine replicator, wide lower portion of the backrest and narrower upper half. However, it gets the job done, even if the user looks like some sort of exoskeleton-possessing insect in it.

 

Ergocentric geoCentric Extra High-Back Synchro Ergonomic Office Chair

Ergocentric geoCentric Extra High-Back Synchro Ergonomic Office Chair

 

The Extra-High Back Chair

 

Some ergonomically designed chairs look like they could touch the moon with their extra-high backs. The extra-high back chair is one of the more unusual-looking types of ergonomic seating. Generally, the shape features a wing curvature of the back to allow for maximum comfort. That wing is also extremely high. You might not see your employees working at their desks; the back is just that tall. Generally, this type of seating is recommend for taller people or those with neck pain. One example of this odd-looking seat is the Ergocentric Geocentric Extra High-Back Synchro Ergonomic Office Chair.

 

Office Star - Ergonomic Kneeling Chair with Wood Frame Finish and Memory Foam

Office Star – Ergonomic Kneeling Chair with Wood Frame Finish and Memory Foam

 

The Kneeling Chair

 

When you think of ergonomically designed seating, you probably envision crazy backs and strange seats. However, some chairs don’t even look like chairs at all. Ergonomically designed kneeling chairs help put the back in a more natural position. While you might require a manual on how to actually sit down in these devices, the kneeling option is not supposed to look like a traditional form of sitting. Generally, people use this type of seating for shorter periods of time to lend temporary relief to the back.

 

Shopping for an ergonomically designed form of seating can take some getting used to for businesses and corporations. If you are obsessed with pretty pieces of furniture, such a look will be a shock to the system. From chairs designed to look like the spine of a human to bouncy balls for sitting, there are a fair number of shapes and forms to this health-conscious mode of design.

 

Getting Healthy in the Workplace

Getting Healthy in the Workplace

If you are overweight or obese, it is important to get healthy quickly. In workplaces across the United States, many billions of dollars are lost every year in revenue as workplaces need to compensate for sick leave.

While accidents do happen, many illnesses are easily avoidable. Especially when it comes to some musculoskeletal disorders such as arthritis or RSI, they can arise through constant, daily discomfort in the workplace in a bad sitting position.

 

Getting the Right Seat

It is every worker’s responsibility to make sure that the seat they are working in is comfortable for their needs. While you will almost certainly start your workplace with a computer, a chair, a table and some other furniture, you should set up and customize your workspace so that it is comfortable for you.

Bad posture can also lead to problems with health in the workplace and if sitting in bad posture for years, various injuries can come up. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by excessive or unsafe use of a computer. The constant clicking action of fingers, wrists and typing can cause a nerve in the arm to begin swelling and causing pain.

Carpal tunnel can be very debilitating and painful, and is one of the chief causes of injuries and accidents in the workplace.

 

Sitting at the Right Distance and Angle

Setting up your seat so that you are at the right angle and distance from your monitor is also important. You need to be about 25” away (about an arm’s length or more) from your screen. This is also important for optical health. Every few minutes, look away from your monitor and fix your gaze on something else in the room or outside. This helps to flush the tear ducts in your eyes and readjust your vision.

The keyboard and mouse should be on the same flat surface. Your hands should be at 90 degrees to the table and be resting on the desk or on a keyboard rest. Feet should be flat on the floor to facilitate correct blood flow to every part of the body.

 

Coping with Seated Work

In some situations, you have no choice but to do seated work in an office for many hours at a time. This is where some coping strategies can come into place. These will allow you to preserve your health longer as well.

1) Every half an hour at least, you should take a short walk somewhere in the building. The bathroom, the kitchen, a vending machine, a brief walk outside. Some employers may not allow this too frequently so find out what is acceptable.

2) Ask your manager for a shared couch or resting area near a workplace. Workers can take short breaks there to read or they can have quiet discussions.

3) Stand up and walk around the room a few times every hour to move the blood a bit where it is needed.