The first thing many ergonomics teams tend to do when attempting to reduce their injury rate is to purchase new tools and equipment. Adjustable chairs and height adjustable desks are excellent options, but don’t expect to roll them in and head home. Training employees to set up and use their equipment properly is just as important as supplying it.
Below are four key findings from the study, “Office Ergonomics Training and a Sit-Stand Workstation: Effects on Musculoskeletal and Visual Symptoms and Performance of Office Workers”, conducted by Robertson, M., Ciriello, V., & Garabet, A. in 2013.
- Explain how and why training is important. Training employees in proper workstation setup can increase the number of standing height adjustments they make by as much as seven times, when compared with those who don’t receive training. Reviewing ergonomics principles and case studies will solidify the importance of “ergonomic” equipment.
- Assign each employee an “ergo buddy” during the transition. To promote learning and engagement, designate a go-to person to answer questions or to help identify when a workstation (or an element of a workstation) is outside the optimal adjustment.
- Mandate the use of new equipment. For the first few days after introducing new equipment, schedule mandatory standing times to provide employees with additional training in adjusting their workstations and to get them “out of their chairs.”
- Consider the indirect implications of standing workstations. To encourage blood flow in the legs, provide flooring, or accessories like anti-fatigue matting, to complement a standing workstation. Teach employees about proper footwear and its effects on the symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Following these tips will reduce injuries (musculoskeletal risk factors) and increase task accuracy, compared with when equipment is provided without proper training.