Why Your Company Needs an Ergonomic Audit Today
With so many people working from home offices in 2020 for the first time, businesses have to re-think worker safety. If employees don’t have what they need to work effectively, the company faces increased risks. A lot of businesses focus on protecting against cyber-threats when addressing WFH security but equally important is worker health and safety. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to conduct an ergonomic audit to minimize exposure to workers’ compensation risk and to enable your teams to thrive while working from anywhere.
Why Ergonomics Matter for Remote Workers Too
Normally, employees work at their office desk, which may include ergonomic chairs that encourage good posture, correct desk heights, and proper lighting. To keep the workplace safe, secure, and healthy, employers may implement workplace wellness best practices such as:
- Installing and maintaining a quality HVAC system to ensure optimum air ventilation
- Using natural lighting to enhance mood and productivity
- Consulting with safety professionals to ensure there are no fire or electrical hazards
- Encouraging exercise during the day to avoid the health risks pf sitting for prolonged periods
If your workers aren’t creating a similar environment at home, they may be spending hours in front of a computer in a WFH setup that could lead to health problems. Poor ergonomics for remote office workers can lead to issues ranging from eye strain and headaches to chronic back pain and repetitive strain injuries.
Sitting all day at home can increase the risk of developing heart disease, cancer, and a dozen other diseases that can lead to an early death.
Overlooking potential hazards – tripping hazards, exposed cords, portable heaters placed near papers – can also pose health threats.
What Employers Can Do
OSHA doesn’t expect employers to conduct personal visits to audit every employee’s home office. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide what their WFH setup looks like.
What employers can do is offer guidelines so employees know what they should do to stay safe. Not only will this encourage workers to focus on wellness and workplace safety best practices, but it also protects the company from liability risks.
Create a policy, write it down, and share it with employees. Then, it’s up to your remote teams to conduct their own ergonomic audit.
What to Include in a WFH Ergonomic Audit for Remote Employees
Help your workers adjust to the new normal with clear guidelines on creating an ergonomically sound workplace. Encouraging good practices will promote productivity and prevent injuries.
Maintain a safe and healthy posture
Slumped shoulders, a rounded back, or crooking the neck puts stress on the spine and joints. It can also lead to sore muscles and tendons. Over time, improper posture can lead to back pain – which is the sixth most costly condition in the US.
Whether employees are sitting or standing, they should maintain a neutral posture.
- Your spine should be straight.
- Feet should be on the floor – use a footrest if necessary.
- The back should be supported with a comfortable chair.
- The screen should be in front of you, with the top of the screen at eye level.
Use adjustable height desks or chairs
For anyone working on a laptop or desktop all day, one of the biggest health risks is a repetitive strain injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome. To avoid this, it’s important to make sure the way you sit or stand isn’t putting stress on nerves, tendons, and muscles.
With an adjustable chair, desk, or both, employees can ensure their forearms and wrists are parallel with the floor when typing. Also, the elbows should form an L-shape at the joint.
Prevent phone strain
This is especially important for remote contact center workers. They should have a comfortable headset, so they aren’t cradling the phone with their neck.
For employees who talk regularly with clients, such as sales teams and employees who collaborate frequently, equip them with video conferencing software. This way, they can use face-to-face communications on any device and have the flexibility to move around. Allowing for moving and stretching can prevent fatigue caused by static load – which is when you stay in one position for too long without moving.
Take Control of Remote Employee Ergonomics Now
2020 has been the year of remote work. Even with a vaccine and hopes of dwindling COVID challenges in 2021, many organizations will continue to use some level of remote work.
Set up your teams for success in the years ahead and be proactive about WFH worker safety and security. Enable employees to be productive, engaged, and to thrive with the right information and the right technology.