The concept of ergonomic design serves to facilitate people at their workplace or home. Rather than expecting people to adapt to uncomfortable designs, ergonomic design tries to suit the needs of people who are going to use them. It mainly aims to improvise the workspace environment and reduces the chances of any harm or injury.

Ergonomics: What Is It
and Why Should
You Know About It

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is defined as the science of fitting a workplace to the user’s requirements to increase productivity and reduce discomfort. This discipline brings together the knowledge of psychology, engineering, statistics, anatomy, and physiology to ensure that the designs complement the abilities and strength of people and minimize the effects of their limitations.

Indian studies and statistics about workplace ergonomics

The following statistics on workplace ergonomics are crucial.

  • According to an Indian study, a majority of the workers feel uncomfortable in their sitting posture.
  • Around 68% of the employees are not comfortable performing work for a long duration. 
  • About 30% of the employees perform the workspace activities by raising their hands above shoulder level.
  • Approximately 32% of the employees find it difficult to achieve the goals with the present ergonomic design of their workspace. 
  • An IJAR study investigated occupational ergonomics and concluded that organizations need to minimize the repetitive motion tasks that lead to an awkward posture.

Indian law on ergonomics

The Indian Society of Ergonomics, established in 1983, is the only professional body that represents ergonomics in the country. There are various occupational hygiene and safety laws added in the legislation to ease the workers. These laws ensure occupational safety at the workplace.

Elements of ergonomics:
Why is ergonomics crucial
& necessary?

What are the common symptoms of not incorporating ergonomics in daily routine? (ergonomic stressors)

There are three ergonomic stressors that employees need to consider when evaluating a job. These are,

  • The force needed to complete a task
  • The repetitiveness of the task
  • Awkward or static working posture while completing the task

The common symptoms of not incorporating ergonomic design in daily routine are,

Lower back pain

Discomfort

Low productivity

Eye strains

Difficulty in knee movement

Musculoskeletal disorder symptoms and why ergonomics matter

Musculoskeletal disorders affect joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones. The pain can be acute or chronic, depending on the severity. The common symptoms of musculoskeletal disorder symptoms may vary according to the cause of the pain. These are,

Fatigue

Sleep disturbances

Pain that worsens with movement

Aching and stiffness

Muscle twitches

Burning sensations in the muscles

Features of ergonomics

Anthropometry in ergonomics

Anthropometry is the systematic measurement of the physical properties of the human body. These include eye height, hip breadth, knuckle height, distance from the floor to a person’s eyes, overall stature, popliteal height, and distance from the floor
to the back of the knee. 

These measurements are done to optimize the fit and functions of the product during design and evaluation. To apply the anthropometric data, there are three basic choices.

  • Design for the average
  • Design for extremes
  • Design for adjustability

Each principle has its own application within a workspace. Designers can go for any of these approaches while using anthropometric data that best suit the given situation.

Biomechanics of ergonomics

To enjoy the benefits of ergonomic design, it is mandatory to consider ergonomics and biomechanics as a whole. Biomechanics is the science of movement of the living body. It includes the study of how bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints work together
to move.

These models comprise mathematical predictive equations that can be used to estimate loads on the human body. In the case of workplace ergonomics, the body is viewed as a system of levers. Biomechanics in knee joints is complex because it includes the
weight of the body and various orientations of the joints in question.

Environmental physics of ergonomics

This branch of ergonomics studies the concepts related to the interaction of people with their physical environment, whether indoor, outdoor, operational, or free-time. These interaction studies may vary from comfortable to traumatic experiences.

The models used in environmental physics are mainly derived from the effects of heat and cold, vibration, noise, and light on the health, comfort, and performance of the people. Keep in mind that it is an integral part of ergonomics and should always be viewed and practiced effectively.

Humans never respond to environmental physics in a way related to direct measures of the physical environment. Certain human characteristics are used to evaluate human responses and sensitivities.

Applied psychology aspects

Applied psychology analyzes and derives solutions that allow workers to adapt to their external factors and the company’s internal factors to avoid psychological burdens. Working in a non-ergonomic environment can lead to several dysfunctions, such as
stress, anxiety, and phobia. These can limit workers’ abilities and influence their performances directly.

Priority will be given to examining the workers’ characteristics, social interaction opportunities, habits, culture, and how they are affected by unfavorable working conditions. This aspect presents the importance of ergonomics in product design and how
it increases the working ability of an employee on the go.

Social psychology aspects

Poor work conditions not only affect the workers physically but also mentally and socially. A non-ergonomic workstation design leads to increased cycle times, awkward posture, low quality of work, and exposure to high forces, which, in turn, increases the mental stress on an individual.

Social psychology effects are a little more discreet but expensive. Bad and uncomfortable ergonomic design, whether in the workplace or at home, breaks their connection from their social life by keeping them engaged in the work for a longer time. The added stress can directly influence a workers’ behavior and decrease human performance.

How can you ensure
ergonomics at your
place of work?

Dangers of sitting in a non-ergonomic manner

There is no denying the fact that sitting in a non-ergonomic manner is not healthy in the long run. It not only affects the person physically but also creates mental stress. It increases the risk of chronic health problems, such as diabetes, cholesterol, and certain cancers.

The more you sit in a workstation with an ergonomic chair design, the better your chances are for living a healthy life. Further, humans are meant for an active lifestyle as their bodily system is built that way. However, nowadays, office culture has taken precedence. People need to sit down in the same place for long hours, which affects their body posture and makes them inactive and lazy.

The health diseases that might affect you if your work desk design is not ergonomic include,

Musculoskeletal disorder

Heart and vascular disease

Depression and anxiety

Diabetes

Bad body posture

Changing your workstation to be more ergonomic

Since you are now aware of the dangers of not using an ergonomic design for your workstation, it’s time to modify your workstation according to your physical needs. A safe and healthy workspace is the key to a healthy and productive workforce.

Therefore, enterprises and employees need to ensure that the work desk design meets the ergonomic requirements. Keep in mind that all those fancy chairs and desks make no sense for an employee who slouches or slumps awkwardly at their desk.

Let’s check out some of the important aspects related to workspace ergonomics so that organizations can make changes accordingly.

Ergonomic Design of Your Chair

Height

The seat height is the first and foremost thing to consider while looking for an ergonomic chair design. The optimal height allows you to keep your feet flat on the floor and, therefore, it is always advised to go for chairs with adjustable height.
While everyone has a different height, chairs with lengths that range from 16 to 21 inches work for most people.

Lumbar support

Lumbar support refers to the support that is given to your lower back. This is an essential feature and must not be overlooked while looking for a chair with an ergonomic design.
Good chairs support the natural S shape of the spine to reduce slumping and stress from the lower back and pelvis. One can also use a lumbar support pillow to ease lower back pain.
An adjustable backrest allows the users to align the curve in the chair to their spine and enjoy optimal support while working.

Cushioning

Cushioning is provided in an ergonomic chair to relieve pressure by distributing weight across the cushion. It encourages occupational safety, better seating posture, and softens an uncomfortable hard seat.

Movement

While choosing an ergonomic design chair for a workspace, it is important to select a movable option. Moreover, the choice should be made according to the flooring on which the chair will be placed.
If your chair will be used on a hard surface, find one with soft rubber wheels. However, if it has to be kept on a carpeted surface, select hard wheels with better traction.

Armrest

Armrests play an important role while choosing an ergonomic chair design. They reduce the pressure from the upper body and allow the shoulders to relax. The armrest must not be used while typing as it decreases the overall arm movement and affects the work performance. Also, it forces wrist movements that lead to strain on the forearm muscles.

Wakefit’s chairs and their ergonomic features

At Wakefit , we offer three types of ergonomic design office chairs .

Virgo High Back Office Chair, with the following features

  • Synchro-tilt mechanism
  • Reinforced nylon base
  • Adjustable armrest, backrest, headrest, and height
  • Lumbar support
  • Smooth wheels

Aries Medium Back Office Chair, with the following features

  • Push back tilt mechanism
  • Adjustable height
  • Backrest
  • Reinforced nylon base

Albus Medium Back Office Chair, with the following features

  • Reinforced nylon base
  • Tilt tension control knob
  • Synchro-tilt mechanism
  • Smooth wheels
  • Adjustable backrest, armrest, headrest, and height

Ergonomic Design of the Desk

Height

While the average desk height varies a bit, most work surfaces are designed at the standard height of 28” to 30” from the floor to the tabletop. This is a good height for most people between 5’8” and 5’10” tall. If you are taller or shorter, you may have to make some more adjustments.

Arm length

The arm length of the desk should be long enough to support the employee’s elbows when seated. It should be 4” shorter in length than full-length arms for the ideal arm length. The major advantage of adding desk-length arms is to be closer to the desk or table without bumping into it.

Space for knees, feet, and movement

An appropriate ergonomic design desk ensures that a user will have enough space for feet, knees, and thigh movement. Always select a desk that is adjustable so that you can modify it according to your height and body needs. However, if it is not adjustable, raise your chair to accommodate the extra height of the table.

Hard edges: Wrist rest and padding

Have you ever experienced discomfort while using your work desk design and thought about the reason? It is because of its hard and sharp edges. If your desk has a hard edge, either pad it or use wrist rests.
Wrist rests are intended to support the straight wrist and reduce the pressure from the wrist by providing a soft surface to relax. However, one should keep in mind that these are wrist “rests” and not wrist “supports.” Therefore, they should only be used to take a break while typing. Always choose a gel wrist-rest as foam wrist rests cannot take adequate pressure.
Padding is an important part of an ergonomic design and is used to cover the hard edges of the table. It gives proper arm support to the worker and simply distributes the pressure. Thus, it is a good alternative on which to rest.

Footrest

Footrests are ideally designed to shift postures and offer support to the feet if the chair cannot be lowered. A footrest should be adjustable according to the height so that you can adjust the same until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
While using footrests, ensure to change positions frequently. This increases blood circulation and helps in avoiding static positions.

Monitor and mouse pad height and spacing

Place the monitor right in front of you, about an arm’s length away. The top of the screen should be slightly below or at eye level. Also, the monitor should be kept just behind the keyboard. If any of the employees wear a bifocal lens, lower the height of the monitor by up to 1 or 2 inches for comfortable viewing. Also, the monitor should be tilted backward.
The mousepads with ergonomic design have one or two feature designs that make them more usable. They are generally curved or raised on the thumb side to support the hand in a handshake position.

Explore Wakefit’s ergonomically designed furniture for your workstation

Ergonomics at home

Ergonomics at home

Ergonomic Design of The Bed in Your Room

Keeping the right ergonomics of your bed is important to enjoy comfort while working from home. Everything has its own significance. The pillow must be the perfect height and the mattress must provide the right support.

Headboard

Go for an upholstered headboard as it not only improves the aesthetics of the bedroom but also provides cushioned support to the back when sitting. Alternatively, you can select a curved wooden headboard to enjoy excellent back support.

Mattress

Mattress and pillows are important to consider while looking at ergonomics in product design. Several factors should be taken into account at the time of designing your bed, such as the infill material, support system, and durability.

Pillows

Consider buying Wakefit’s Lumbar Support Pillow as it releases muscle tension and eases chronic back pain. Moreover, it also helps in correcting your body posture.

Workstation at home: Planning out your space

Follow the recommended guidelines while planning out your space and ensure work from home ergonomics.

  • Adjust your desk height according to your body requirements. Add enough space for knee movement.
  • Choose a comfortable home office chair that is adjustable and ensures your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Protect your eyes and your neck by placing the monitor at an arm’s length from you. Keep your screen straight to avoid unnecessary torsion.
  • Surround yourself with the right tools, such as a keyboard and mouse that provide adequate wrist support to ensure work from home ergonomics.
  • Get moving and take breaks to walk around the house.

Lighting

Importance

In addition to comfortable furniture, lighting is another crucial factor that cannot be overlooked. Exposure to natural light helps employees to get vitamin D and improves their circadian rhythm and sleep patterns.
Moreover, it helps them improve focus so that they can get more work done with ease.

Studies on benefits of natural lighting

Numerous studies have shown that natural lighting improves employee satisfaction and work productivity. According to Forbes, the Future Workplace Wellness Study states that workers who are exposed to natural light have improved sleep-wake schedules.
Benefits of including natural lighting to workplace ergonomics are,

Improved mood

Reduced eye strains

Fewer headaches

Less drowsiness

High productivity

How to plan your workstation to include natural lighting

Along with a comfortable home office chair and desk, it is important to take measures to include natural lighting in your workstation to foster productivity.

  • Consider changing the windows and doors
  • Reorganize all your comfortable furniture
  • Create a break zone in an airy and light-rich location
  • Add mirrors to reflect light from outside

Wakefit work from home furniture and their ergonomic features

At Wakefit, we offer a variety of work-from-home products to ensure an ergonomic workplace. These are,

Their key features are,

  • An adjustable height as per the body requirements
  • Lumbar back support to maintain the sitting posture
  • Sufficient leg space in tables
  • Adjustable backrests, armest, and headrests in chairs
  • Deep drawer space
  • Appropriate footrest

Check out Wakefit’s ergonomically designed furniture for your home

Exercises to try at
your desk and at home

Exercises to try at your desk and at home

There are various exercises to reduce lower back pain and ease eye strain. Add them to your routine and improve overall well-being. However, it is advised to always be careful while implementing a new exercise into your schedule. If you feel pain or discomfort, connect with a doctor without delay.

Back exercises

Upper back stretches might be the best thing to try at your desk and home to reduce the pressure in your spine and improve flexibility. There are various sitting and standing stretching exercises to reduce lower back pain that you can add to your daily routine. These include,

Lateral trunk stretch

Hamstring stretch

Knee to chest stretch

Figure 4 stretch

Hip flexor stretch

Eye rotations

Eye strain exercises may help ease and relieve eye strain.

  • Rotate your eyes while breathing in a rhythmic pattern that restores balance in your eye muscles.
  • You can also try focus changes to relax your eye muscles. Just hold your pointer finger a few inches away from your eye and start focusing on it.
  • The 20-20-20 rule is yet another effective eye strain exercise. Look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes.

Leg and knee exercises

While adding leg and knee exercises, keep the biomechanics of knee joints in mind. Gentle knee stretching and strengthening exercises may help in easing the pain while improving flexibility and range of motion.
Stretches for knee pain include,

Knee and calf stretch

Quadriceps stretch

Hamstring stretch

Hamstring curl

Calf raises

Foot stretches

In addition to performing the stretches for knee pain, stretching your feet can help in reducing ankle pain, ease muscle soreness, and improve overall foot health.

  • Spread your toes apart as far as comfortable and hold for five seconds to ease the pain
  • Toe extensions
  • Toe curls
  • Tennis ball rolls

Arm and wrist exercises

Arm and wrist exercises increase flexibility and lower the risk of injury.

  • Extend your arm with your palm facing toward the ceiling and gently press the fingers down toward the floor.
  • Place your palm face up under the desk and press upward against the bottom of the desk.
  • Squeeze a tennis or stress ball firmly for 10 seconds.
  • Close your hands slowly into a fist. Make sure your forearms are touching your legs while raising your fist off of your legs and back toward your body. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
  • Turn your fist, pointing your thumb up. Now, create resistance with your thumb and hand muscles to keep the thumb from moving. Gently pull back on your thumb and hold the position.

Shoulder exercises

Shoulder exercises only help in soothing pain and discomfort but also promote the best sitting posture.

  • Keep your back straight and roll your shoulder forward, up, back, and down in a circular motion.
  • Sit with your back straight and tilt your head toward the shoulder. Drop your shoulder blade on the opposite side toward the floor and hold for 10 seconds.

FAQs

Ergonomics is an applied science related to designing and arranging things. An ergonomic design aims to reduce physical stress and the resulting injuries. It also enhances occupational hygiene to enhance productivity and better work culture.

An ergonomic workplace is a workspace designed to keep workers’ capabilities and limitations in mind. The ideal design promotes the best sitting posture and removes the risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

The best example of ergonomic design is comfortable furniture like an office chair, an ideally designed desk, improved footrests, comfortable wrist rests, an adjustable monitor, an ergonomic keyboard, and a well-positioned mouse.

  • Create a dedicated workspace and do not work while sitting on the bed or couch.
  • Use a cushioned chair to achieve the best sitting position for lower back pain. 
  • Use ample natural lighting to keep the body active.
  • Move around after every 20 minutes and do upper back stretches to improve flexibility.

The features of the chair with an ergonomic design are,

  • An appropriate seat height
  • An adjustable chair to provide the best sitting position for lower back pain
  • An adjustable backrest
  • A chair with a five-point base 
  • An adequately long armrest
  • Excellent lumbar support

There are five principles of Ergonomics:

  • Safety
  • Comfort
  • Ease of use
  • Productivity/Performance
  • Aesthetics

Having this kind of furniture at your workplace and home can help avoid injuries/issues like bad posture or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, muscle pulls, cramps etc. Hence it is imperative that you have ergonomic designs implemented both at your workplace and homes.

Workplace:

  • Adjustable chairs 
  • Standing or adjustable desks 
  • Portable workstation 
  • Keyboard and mouse 

Home:

  • Expandable couches 
  • Kitchen extendable pips 
  • Cabinets 
  • Elongated bowls in toilets 
  • Ergonomic garden tools

Ergonomic shoes are an extremely useful accessory for those who have experienced foot/leg pains their entire lives. These have been designed with an anatomical arch support which keeps the feet in the correct position for proper functioning. The soles absorb shock and pain by reducing the pressure on the heels and the entire body. These ergonomic shoes are a great investment for alleviating back, knee and foot pain in the long run.

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