Attention to Workplace Ergonomics Safeguards Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing
Safety concerns at work tend to focus on physical, chemical and biological hazards and frequently overlook the importance of addressing workplace ergonomics. The introduction of the Occupational Health and Safety Act helped raise awareness among the nation’s employers of the dangers of exposing their workers to toxic chemicals and biological agents. It also highlighted the physical risks to staff, such as permanent hearing loss due to repeated prolonged exposure to loud noise and the need for guard rails on machinery to prevent injuries.
By contrast, the consequences of failing to ensure workers are protected from stress and strain caused by overexertion or prolonged discomfort whilst performing their day-to-day tasks are often ignored. Furthermore, even those with relatively sedentary jobs, such as office workers, could be at risk of developing mental health issues, becoming dangerously fatigued or suffering painful, debilitating medical conditions.
The Possible Results of Neglecting Workplace Ergonomics
Comfort can be just as crucial to an employee’s health as guard rails and protective clothing, yet the design of many tasks they must perform daily often causes intense discomfort. For example, jobs that repeatedly require an operator to bend, stretch, pull, push or lift heavy objects will frequently lead to the onset of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as a torn rotator cuff or a herniated lumbar disc. Poorly designed seating and work surfaces can also contribute to postural problems.
Even though your employees may not display any of these physical manifestations of work-related stress, poorly designed tasks have the potential to leave workers exhausted and more prone to mistakes and accidental injuries. In addition to the effect on employees, employers must cope with high absenteeism rates, increased sick pay and possibly temporary staff costs, lost production and erosion of profits.
Improving Your Workplace Ergonomics Offers Several Benefits
Re-designing the offending tasks and providing more appropriate tools and staff training will automatically reduce MSDs and injuries, and properly adjusted seating, workbenches, and desks will help reduce fatigue. However, the effects on mental health and well-being can be even more pronounced. Addressing these issues will have four main benefits as follows:
Less Stress and Anxiety
Installing ergonomically-designed furniture will promote improved posture and eliminate the prolonged discomfort that eventually leads to pain, stress and generalised depression.
Improved Morale and Energy Levels
Working in an awkward position or spending the day in an uncomfortable chair is enough to drain anyone’s energy and sap their morale. Applying ergonomic principles when designing workstations helps promote movement and allows workers to alternate between sitting and standing, improving their mood and energy levels.
Improving ergonomics in the workplace also holds benefits for employers. Workers can better focus on the tasks at hand when they are not distracted by pain and discomfort. When these distractions are removed, they will immediately become more productive.
Less Absenteeism and Healthcare Costs
Investing in your employees’ comfort benefits everyone. For a relatively modest sum, new ergonomically-designed furniture can slash your absenteeism rate and the substantial associated costs.
Get Professional Assistance With Workplace Ergonomics
It requires experience and a trained eye to spot all the elements that might be causing employees discomfort and stress that could affect them physically and mentally. Contact IOH Solutions to arrange a survey, and let’s start maximising your productivity today.
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