The role of ergonomics in the workplace

When people talk about ergonomics in relation to the office environment, they usually refer to the design of chairs and other office equipment. But the task of the ergonomist involves far more than designing furniture.

In Italy, under Law 626 passed in 1994, employers are responsible not only for providing ergonomically suitable equipment but also for ensuring adequate information and training for all employees (Art. 56).

How many managers think that they have fulfilled their obligations when they have provided their staff with ergonomically designed chairs? How many office workers really know how to use their equipment properly?

This is where the ergonomic adviser has an important role to play. An expert can see immediately when a worker is not using his or her equipment to best advantage, whether it is a chair, a switchboard, a computer keyboard or a mouse, and can suggest ways to achieve the same results with less effort.

Movements that we have come to consider "normal" can put undue strain on muscles and tendons, leading to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) and other painful disorders.

A thorough workstation assessment ensures that office workers, and computer operators in particular, are comfortable at their desks, with the result that morale soars, sick leave diminishes and productivity increases. Contented employees in a well-planned working environment mean better results for the company as a whole.