The Importance of Workstation Ergonomics

Employers may commonly believe that only employees with physical, labour-intensive roles are at risk of sustaining a manual handling injury. However, those who spend the majority of their day completing office based roles are also at risk of manual handling injuries such as repetitive strain injuries or musculoskeletal disorders of the back, neck, shoulders and upper limbs. Therefore, providing an appropriately individualised workstation, specific to the needs of the employee, is an important holistic approach and proactive step in reducing risk of these injuries, as well as promoting health and well-being for the individual and a healthy workplace culture.

By a quick glance, it may appear that a worker is well set up at their computer desk as they have all the equipment they need; a good chair, two monitors and a document holder. However, each employee has such individual needs in order to best support their size, posture, injuries and work demands that time needs to be taken to closely review each workstation.

P2 Group Occupational Therapists are skilled in ergonomics and workstation design and are able to provide recommendations in regards to the following components of a workstation:

In addition to specific equipment adjustments or recommendations, our Occupational Therapists also provide education to employees to upskill themselves in order to monitor and address their workstation needs in an ongoing capacity.

In addition to reducing the risk of injuries, an appropriate workstation set up can be an important contributor to promoting recovery and enhancing productivity for an employee that has a pre-existing condition:

P2 Group was engaged by an organisation to assist an employee who had a neck injury as a result of a sporting accident, and was experiencing ongoing neck, back and shoulder discomfort. They consulted with a Physiotherapist on a regular basis, however continued to experience discomfort during their day-to-day work tasks. Upon review of their workstation, it was deemed that their current workstation set-up was poor, and was not supporting their neck and shoulder recovery. The following are some of the recommendations that were made:

The employee’s chair was not providing appropriate support as the back support was too low and too far reclined, and the chair was not raised high enough so the employee was not appropriately supported through the hips; adjustments were made accordingly.

The primary monitor being used was too low for the employee’s height, meaning their neck was in a flexed position for prolonged periods of time, creating additional discomfort. Adjustments were made to the height of the monitor as well as to the employee’s keyboard and mouse, ensuring that they promoted a neutral, relaxed position.

Following a short period with the above changes, the employee experienced reduced discomfort in their neck and shoulders and was able to be more productive throughout the day. Further to the above recommendations, the employee was provided with education in order to monitor their own workstation to maintain an appropriate set up long term.