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 Ergonomics in the Workplace: Easy Relief For Back and Neck Pain


Let’s talk about Ergonomics in the workplace.  What’s Ergonomics, you ask. A shorthand definition, at least my take on Ergonomics, is ‘common sense design for tools calculated for human proportion and ease of use.’  That is just the simple definition of a very technical science.  Ergonomics encompasses the fields of Psychology, Physiology, Anthropometry, and Engineering.  The sound of the word suggests some sort of space-pioneering futurism.  But the fact is, Ergonomics can be traced back to Ancient Greece and even before.

 Mankind had to sit, work, sleep, cook, and “manufacture” things back then, and to this day we are still looking for more efficient, user-friendly means to accomplish the same or similar tasks.  Designers throughout history have used everything they had at their disposal to support good design and function.  Hence, Ergonomics in the workplace, we could say, likely included a clever way to hoist a column into place without herniating a disc.  The exciting news is, that today’s technology and intensive scientific research (into just what the body needs in order to function well with less strain and injury), is producing some amazingly effective chairs, desks, lighting, computers, and computer accessories.  All of this makes sense, common sense, in order to assure more long and short-term safety for employees. 

 The use of these conveniences pays dividends in several ways. First, we (you, I, employers) can save mucho dollars in lost work time, medical bills, workmen’s compensation, and possible permanent disability, by simply availing ourselves at work and/or in our home offices, of some of the innovative new devices that are now available to us.  Secondly, we spend most of our lives at work.  Don’t we deserve to be blissfully comfortable?

 The most important consideration is where we are sitting, how we are sitting, how long we are sitting, and what we are sitting on. Here is where Ergonomics in the workplace is making some stunning contributions.

 There is now high-tech seating to suit just about every task.  If you are perched at a computer for hours and hours as so many of us are these days, the lumbar (bottom five vertebrae in the spine) needs to be supported to decrease disc pressure. With this objective in mind the optimal choice is the Aeron Chair (by Herman Miller).  This chair so impressed the folks at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, that they adopted it in their permanent collection.  This chair comes quipped with supports for the small of the back, above the small of the back, the arms, and the legs.  It is the chair of choice in fending off the doctor, the chiropractor, or, heaven forbid, a permanent disability.

 If your work requires bending forward, consider the Kneeling Chair (by Jobri).  Say goodbye to lower back pains and sciatic spasms. This chair takes all of the pressure off the back, and, surprisingly, it doesn’t place it on the knees.  It simply allows the spine to align properly to allow pain-free mobility.  I used a kneeling chair years ago when I was at my drawing board for hours at a time.  I loved it. 

 Another unique and useful chair is called the Ab Stool (from Neutral Posture).  This chair has a backrest that comes forward when needed, to support the abdomen during tasks that require leaning forward for long periods.  Doctors, dentists, draftsmen, engineers, designers, and crafts enthusiasts, all will find that this chair will allow long periods of stress-free performance.

 There is no question that the use of advanced ergonomics in the workplace is helping to prevent common injuries, and preserving our overall health.

 -Karen Saloomey


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