Ergonomics done right.®
January 8th, 2013

Help, I Failed My Office Ergonomics Test!

By Katie Grosteffon, AEP

Katie GrosteffonI often conduct face-to-face office ergonomic assessments with users who have already completed an online ergonomics self-assessment. They are referred to me because their assessments revealed a moderate to high level of ergonomic risk, and it’s my job to help them reduce or eliminate those risks.

When I show up, the first thing I hear is, “I failed the ergo test?!” Then, I  assure them that the ergonomics self-assessment is not a ‘test’. There are no trick questions and they do not need to memorize the correct answers. It is rather a self-evaluation of workstation setup and work habits to identify potential areas for improvement. The questions are a guide to determine how they can change the workstation to fit them more comfortably and productively, while reducing the risk for work-related injuries.

With that in mind, here are some tips to share with your employees before rolling out an office ergonomics self-assessment process:

1. Answer honestly. Choose the answer that most closely matches the way you actually work. Don’t try to pick the “ergonomically-correct” answer for every question, unless that is truly the way you work. For example, if you tend to lean forward while you work, but you know you are supposed to sit back in your chair, answer that you lean forward.

2. Ask for a second opinion. Sometimes it is hard to evaluate yourself, especially if the question is about your posture. If you’re having a hard time answering a question, ask a co-worker to observe you or take a picture of your working posture. You might think you sit with your shoulders relaxed, but a co-worker might notice your shoulders raised while you work.

3. Make changes. An ergonomics self-assessment may provide you with keys on how to improve your workstation. Some of these changes are easy to do yourself. If your monitor is too low, raise it. If your breaks are too infrequent, set a calendar alert to remind you to get out of your chair and stretch.

4. Call for help. If a change is recommended that you cannot make yourself, ask for help. If your desk needs to be lowered, call your building’s facilities team for a desk adjustment or see if a keyboard tray can be installed. If you don’t understand a recommendation or are not sure how to implement it, see if you can schedule an assessment with an ergonomist to get the help you need.