28 INN VATE INSPIRATION FOR THE MODERN OFFICE MARCH 2018 INN VATE INSPIRATION FOR THE MODERN OFFICE MARCH 2018 INN VATE 1300 13 52 79 cos.net.au April, 2018 Workplace Ergonomics Technology is more mobile, but we’re moving less The advancement of technology and the emergence of mobile devices has undoubtedly created immeasurable benefits and economic value, but the impact hasn’t been quite as positive for human health and wellbeing. Those of us who spend most of our workday seated at a desk are at great risk of increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and even cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. While enabling more flexibility in terms of where and when we work, technology was not designed with the human body in mind. It has inadvertently extended the work week and replaced physical activity as a natural part of our lives. “Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move. As human beings, we evolved to stand upright. For thousands of generations, our environment demanded nearly constant physical activity” says Dr James Levine M.D, Ph.D and consultant to governments internationally. Dr Levine has published extensive research about the detrimental effect sitting (which he describes as the new smoking) is having on civilised societies. His research is compelling and strengthens the case for making ergonomic resources and design in the workplace a priority. We sit during our morning commute, we sit at our desk, we sit in meetings, we sit at lunch, we drive home, we sit at the dinner table or restaurant, and then we sit and watch TV. We can shop, pay bills, work, be entertained, even socialise whilst sitting idly for extended periods. Ergonomics is increasingly important in the design and furnishing of workspaces. As an example, the Danish government has mandated that all office workers must have a height adjustable desk. It’s crucial for job efficiency and productivity, so addressing it right away with new starters is a great way to stop bad habits from forming. Remember that your younger new starters have grown up with technology and so have likely already developed some bad habits, potentially causing them musculoskeletal injuries that the older among us didn’t experience until after many years on the job. With all of this in mind it’s clear that as a business owner ergonomics should be a fundamental part of your business plan from day one. The goal is a comfortable posture and adapting your work habits to maintain a healthy body and mind. Interrupt your sedentary stints as often as possible. “Stand up every half hour,” says Neville Owen, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland. Of course ergonomics extends far beyond height-adjustable desks. Poor ergonomics can cause muscolosketal disorders, one of the most common is carpal tunnel syndrome. Other side effects include stiff necks, sore backs, headaches and migraines, even ganglion cysts from repetitive movements. You can reduce your risk of injury, fatigue and disease by switching your workstation furniture and computer accessories for ergonomic alternatives and interjecting more physical activity into your work day. Ergonomics is not a one-size-fits-all solution and best practice highlights the importance of staff trying out a variety of devices and furniture options and ensure they go through a thorough testing process. By focusing on the ergonomic benefits of your office products, you are protecting the health and wellbeing of your most vital asset – your people.