Ergonomics in the Workplace: A Guide for Managers

17/09/18

As a company develops and additional employees are hired, it becomes more and more important to ensure that managers understand their responsibilities when it comes to office ergonomics.

Governmental guidance is already available on this in general terms, so what we’re going to do is focus on the office environment specifically, discussing ways in which it can be made safer and more comfortable through the introduction of items such as ergonomic keyboards and ergonomic chairs.

But first, we will give some background on the topic itself.

How Does Ergonomics Work?

Derived from the Greek for ‘work’ and combined with ‘economics’ (itself from a Greek source), a simple definition of ergonomics is that it is the study of work efficiency. Over the years office ergonomics has come to be associated with:

  • Comfort,
  • Posture,
  • Performance,
  • Safety,
  • Job satisfaction,
  • General wellbeing.

With these points in mind, it is possible to see that ergonomics works by taking care of any physical or environmental elements which can help to improve efficiency and general office health. When it comes to the office environment, this primarily involves desks, chairs and keyboards, and we will look at these below.

Selecting the Best Ergonomic Office Chairs

With so many options to choose from, there is no one 'best ergonomic office chair' in the UK. Rather, the best option is the one that is tailored to the employee. Some might prefer an ergonomic mesh office chair, which is breathable and comfortable while still offering good lumbar support. Others might benefit from a chair with a stiffer back or with no back at all, allowing their spines to move and flex naturally as they work.

Ergonomics and workplace design have come a long way, meaning that there are many suitable options to choose from if you want to create an ergonomically correct workplace.

So, rather than focusing on finding the best ergonomic chair for back pain, managers could instead ensure that employees are in chairs that are suited to their bodies and, perhaps more importantly, that they are sitting correctly in.

Setting Up Ergonomic Office Chairs

Generally speaking, it is best to let health and safety professionals install specialist office chairs for back problems, as there are numerous small but crucial factors which need to be taken into account. However, when it comes to general ergonomic desk setup there are certain principles which can be followed, forming a simple work ergonomics checklist for managers:

  • A person’s head should be balanced and not leaning forwards;
  • Arms should be relaxed and with forearms resting parallel to the desk;
  • Feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest;
  • Screens should be at eye level and approximately an arm’s length away.

Choosing an Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse

Once ergonomic desks and chairs have been set up, it is time to look at peripherals. As with chairs, there are no ergonomic keyboards which stand out above the rest. Wireless ergonomic keyboards are available, as well as more traditional ones, and, really, it is up to you and your employees to find the most comfortable for the individual.

With this is mind, it could be an idea to arrange for employees to meet with health and safety professionals to discuss their requirements. This way, they will receive the best possible equipment for their needs, installed in the correct way. What’s more, you will be assured that you have done everything you can to ensure their safety and comfort.

Ergonomics Liability Considerations

As mentioned above, it is always a good idea to consult professionals. Ergonomics is an area strongly associated with the prevention of backpain and other workplace injuries, making it especially important that you do your best to look after your employees and take care of yourself.

Other Ways to Ensure an Ergonomic Workplace

The study of ergonomics extends beyond the desk, and there a variety of other ways you can create a safer and more comfortable workplace. These include:

  • Allowing micro-breaks to give employees a chance to stretch and exercise;
  • Offering active working solutions such as stand-up desks and even treadmill desks;
  • Creating breakout areas to meet and work away from desks;
  • Providing training sessions on how best to work and rest;

Maintaining an Ergonomic Workplace

It could be well worth your while to constantly look for ways to improve workplace comfort and safety. This might involve research and additional training for you and other members of your management team.

It could also require you to be knowledgeable about which is the top-rated ergonomic office chair or even to watch the price of the most expensive ergonomic office chair, waiting for the best moment to get a good deal. The time you spend doing this could be considered a worthwhile investment.

When you focus on ergonomics you really are laying down the foundations of good working practices that can carry your business safely into the future.


Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article. This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 17/09/18.

Image courtesy of iStock

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article.

This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 17/09/18.

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