The best ergonomic tools for your employees

Ergonomics – the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment – is an increasingly important topic in the world of workplace design. In addition to the countless benefits for the person, such as less muscle fatigue and injury, fitting the job to the individual and investing in ergonomics has been shown to benefit businesses. For example, one study found that productivity increased by nearly five percent in a group of workers who had ergonomic improvements made to their workstations. Investing in ergonomics can also provide higher job satisfaction, which can help reduce an organizations’ employee turnover.[i]

It’s well known that one of the most important improvements a company can invest in is ergonomic chairs for its employees. Features such as height adjustment, range of height adjustment, comfortable lumbar (lower back) support and height adjustable armrests are important considerations when choosing a new chair. (Learn more about how to be more comfortable in your chair here and ask us more about selecting the right ergonomic chair for your employees!)

Since we know chairs are a great investment, what other ergonomic tools can companies invest in? Let’s evaluate the effectiveness some of the most popular tools today:

Exercise balls & ball chairs

Exercise balls or ball chairs are sometimes used as replacements for task seating. However, studies have shown that they fail to provide any back support, which is an essential component of an ergonomic chair. Also, a chair seat pan should be made of breathable material to transport heat and moisture away from the body, but the material of a ball is non-breathable.[ii]

Sit-stand stations & activity desks

A popular mantra, “sitting is the new smoking,” has been traced back to Dr. James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic – Arizona State University Obesity Solutions. One of Dr. Levine’s recommendations is to position our work surface above a treadmill. However, studies conducted by Cornell University concluded that standing can actually add to neck strain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Their studies found little evidence of widespread benefits, and that the use of sit-stand stations quickly declines, with a majority of users sitting all the time after one month of installing the sit-stand desk. They also concluded that treadmill, bicycle, and elliptical workstations have been shown to decrease computer work performance. Cornell University’s recommendation is to stand up and move around every 20 minutes, building frequent movement variety into the normal workday.[iii]

Keyboard trays & monitor arms

Proper seated position means that your forearms should be parallel to the floor and at an approximate 90-degree angle from your upper arms, and that your wrists should be in a relaxed neutral position – not angled up or down. A keyboard tray allows you to adjust where your keyboard sits so you can have your arms at the proper angle, and many come with palm supports and wrist rests for comfort. With monitor arms you can adjust the placement of your computer screen, allowing you to move it closer or farther from you, and up and down. The distance between your eyes and the monitor should be at least 15.7” or more – typically arms’ length – to reduce eye strain. And the top one-third of your computer screen should be positioned at or below eye level to reduce neck strain.[iv]

For more information about ergonomics and which tools are right for your employees, please contact us! We’d love to help your workforce be more satisfied and productive in their jobs.







Header image:

People, ProductsDoug Williams