Most of the time my ergonomic evaluations involve assessing existing workstations with the intent of reducing risk factors in the most affordable and effective way. This is termed a “reactive” evaluation. Sometimes there are no recommendations for equipment – just recommendations for procedures such as taking mini-breaks every hour, sitting against the office chair backrest, keeping wrists straight while keyboarding, etc. When I make recommendations for equipment during these evaluations, it usually doesn’t involve making large purchases like desks, but may involve purchases such as a keyboard and mouse tray or a monitor riser.
On occasion, companies looking to buy new office furniture enlist my help to have them choose the right equipment before they buy. This is called a “proactive” ergonomic evaluation and it’s a very smart and forward-thinking way to purchase furniture and equipment for the least amount of money and the most effective ergonomics. If furniture and equipment are purchased without ergonomics in mind, there is a much greater chance for workplace injuries to occur.
Ideally all companies would have proactive ergonomic evaluations done before they purchase their office furniture and equipment. This would eliminate the problem of office chairs that aren’t adjustable, desks that don’t have keyboard and mouse trays, monitors that aren’t height adjustable, and improper task lighting, to name a few. It would also reduce smaller scale problems like keyboard and mouse trays that aren’t fully adjustable, keyboards that are too big, and mice that don’t fit all hands. These companies purchase with intent of never having to buy new equipment due to non-adjustability and most importantly, never having any employee go off work due to a work-related injury.
But why wouldn’t you just go to an office furniture supply store and trust their judgment about ergonomics? Stay tuned for the next post to find out why this will result in buyer’s remorse and what you can do to avoid it.