Ergonomics at the workplace
What does ergonomics mean?
Ergonomics is made up of the Greek terms ergon (German for "work") and nomos (German for "law" or "rule") and can be understood as the study of the interrelationship between people and work.
What does ergonomics mean in the workplace? And why is it important?
An ergonomic workplace is therefore about designing the workplace in such a way that it is best adapted to the worker and that he or she can achieve the best possible performance. This should always be done while preserving mental and physical health. Thus, ergonomics is of essential importance for preventive occupational health and safety.
What is the workplace?
In principle, the workplace is the place where employees perform their duties according to their employment contract. This can be on the employer's premises, but it can also be a home office. The term workplace can refer to the computer workstation in the office, the assembly line in the factory or the kitchen in the restaurant.
Why is ergonomics so important in the workplace?
Legal regulations on ergonomics in the workplace?
The most important laws, regulations and directives are:
- Workplace Ordinance (ArbStättV)
- Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG)
- Display Screen Equipment Ordinance (BildscharbV)
- DIN EN ISO 9241
- DIN EN ISO 10075
What does an ergonomic VDU workplace look like?
Ergonomics at the VDU workplace must fulfil several requirements. An ergonomic VDU workplace offers:
- Ergonomic, individually adjustable office furniture to adopt an optimal working position
- Sufficient space for movement
- Appropriate arrangement of tools and equipment
- Appropriate equipment to counteract environmental factors that affect people and their performance
Ergonomic office furniture
Why is ergonomic office furniture needed? Quite simply, they offer the possibility of being individually adapted to the respective body dimensions in order to enable optimal posture. The following points are therefore important:
- Height adjustable office chair
- Height adjustable table
- Easily accessible organiser systems
Anyone who wants to work focused for several hours will appreciate a comfortable office chair. An ergonomic office chair promotes upright sitting and thus strengthens the back muscles, improves breathing and prevents back pain, which can otherwise lead to persistent pain and sick leave for employees.
Adjustment of our desk chair Caro
To enable ergonomic sitting, the following criteria should be considered when choosing the right desk chair:
- Height: An ergonomic office chair must be adjustable and fixable in height. The ideal seat height always depends on the height of the person. However, the office chair should be adjusted so that the legs are bent slightly more than 90 degrees when both feet are firmly on the floor.
- Seat: A large seat is not only comfortable but also important to ensure circulation in the legs. Make sure that the seat is deep enough to reach the back of the knees when sitting and that there is not too much pressure on the underside of the thighs.
- Backrest: Ideally, the backrest should not adjoin the seat, but should even have a free area between the backrest and the seat. This additionally stimulates sitting upright.
- Lockingthe backrest: Even though locking the backrest is comfortable and you can lean against it, it is not a necessary feature from an ergonomic perspective. By locking it, one is tempted to lean and relieve the back muscles. This in turn leads to incorrect loading of the spine and can lead to back pain in the long term.
- Armrest: The armrests should be adjustable in height and width so that they can be used as an extended armrest to the desk when working. Modern office chairs allow adjustments of a third dimension in addition to height and width. With 3D armrests, the lateral angle of the armrests can also be adjusted. This extends and supports the area of the forearms behind the desk top. Soft PU armrests are also a nice add-on.
- Lordosis support: During long periods of sitting, the back muscles can tire and subsequently slump. A lumbar support supports the lordosis (the natural curvature of the spine) and thus promotes a relaxed sitting posture.
The office desk is the centre of the workplace. As with the choice of a suitable office chair, a number of things must also be taken into account when choosing an office desk:
- Work surface: In addition to the necessary work equipment such as laptop, monitor, keyboard and mouse, there must be space for frequently used work equipment. In order to have enough space to store your arms, we recommend a desk with a minimum depth of 80 cm and a minimum width of 160 cm.
- Desk height: A simple rule is that the arms at the desk should have an angle between 90 and 110 degrees to enable a comfortable sitting posture. Therefore, the work surface should be 18 - 30 cm above the seat. At the same time, the desk should be chosen so that there is enough room for the legs to move. This ensures that bad posture and tense posture do not occur.
"Sitting is the new smoking" - Since permanent sitting can have a negative effect on health in the long term, it is advisable to switch regularly between sitting and standing positions. Electrically or mechanically height-adjustable desks are ideal for this. They can be raised and lowered to a height of between 68 - 120 cm, depending on body size.
Height-adjustable desks are also ideal for normal staff changes, which occur frequently, as well as for flexible desk-sharing workstations that are used by different employees. Every workstation including screen and office chair thus fits every body size. This eliminates the hassle of replacing office furniture or the need to buy new office furniture.
Storage systems and cupboards
Sufficient space for movement
Arrangement of work equipment
The monitor is an essential part of a computer workstation. In order to avoid tension, it should be positioned straight and at a distance of 50 - 70 cm in front of the user. The upper edge of the screen should be at eye level and the lower edge of the screen should be visible at an angle of 35°.
Keyboard, mouse and other input devices should be placed at a distance of 10 - 15 cm from the front edge of the desk to enable a comfortable posture. Particularly frequently used work equipment is positioned as centrally as possible in the field of vision and reach.
Counteract environmental factors
Environmental factors are influences that affect people from outside and influence their performance. At the VDU workplace, these include, for example
- Indoor climate
To counteract these environmental factors, a general ergonomic room design is needed, which is complemented by specific measures at the computer workstation.
Lighting conditions are also part of the legally regulated requirements for an ergonomically designed workplace. Ergonomic lighting has numerous positive effects that are, however, often underestimated.
Ergonomically optimised lighting leads to:
- Better concentration and focused work
- Increased wellbeing
- Health promotion
- Increase productivity
Particularly in winter or at workplaces with little daylight, daylight lamps can be used as a substitute. As the name suggests, these are lights whose light colour is very similar to natural daylight. High-quality models have a broad light spectrum. This allows light to be emitted in different colours depending on the time of day. We recommend colder light for the morning and warmer light for the evening. Because: While constant cold light exhausts, constant warm light makes you unfocused.
Noise protection at the workplace
For this reason, appropriate precautions should be taken at every workplace and technical measures implemented to ensure effective noise reduction. Sound-absorbing partitions and desk dividers are an effective way to reduce noise by absorbing the sound waves. If reducing the background noise is not enough, headphones with active noise cancelling can provide additional protection.
Even though the topic of health protection and ergonomics at the workplace is becoming more and more conscious in companies, we notice that many companies still do not pay enough attention to the topic. It is in the interest of every company to promote the topic in their own offices and production areas, as an ergonomic workplace leads to higher productivity on balance and is thus beneficial - for employees and employers.
Lendis is the expert for professional workspaces. We help companies to provide their employees with the best possible working environment. With our ergonomic office equipment, you equip your colleagues with everything they need for a modern workplace and maximum performance.