SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--There is convincing evidence that sitting all day is bad for you. Corporate America is pursuing “worker-friendly” offices allowing for standing time and creating healthier chairs with moving parts for sitting time. Ergonomics, the science of this workplace transformation, is right up there with “going green” on the nation’s business billboard.
For years, workers sat in corporate-issued metal chairs and frankly never gave it a thought. Then researchers linked sitting for prolonged periods with a number of health concerns including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and dangerous cholesterol levels. They’ve also uncovered that too much sitting increases the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to James A. Levine, MD, PhD of the Mayo Clinic. A leading researcher in the field of inactivity studies, he says that “Ergonomics is totally mainstream in the workplace now. There’s been an explosion of research in this area, because the health care cost implications are so enormous.”
While the idea of designing office equipment that supports the body’s movements may seem relatively new at work, ergonomics – also known as human factors engineering – emerged as a real concern during World War II for the performance and safety of military aircrafts, naval ships and large-scale weapons.
Enter Neutral Posture, Inc., a leading maker of ergonomic seating products and accessories for office, lab, manufacturing and industrial spaces. Founded in 1989, the Bryan, Texas-based firm leveraged pioneering military inventions and brought them to the office. Co-founders Jaye Elizabeth Congleton and Rebecca Congleton Boenigk launched the company using the pressure-reducing seat design developed by ergonomics pioneer Jerome Congleton, Ph.D., a former fighter pilot in Vietnam and Professor of Ergonomics and Safety Engineering at Texas A&M University.
Their products focus on human productivity and work stations that help workers stay comfortable and productive and not fate them to a career of neck and back pain and the risk of significant health issues. Neutral Posture is at the forefront of this movement to integrate ergonomics deeply into all areas of the workplace with its seating products, including its patented stand/sit workstation: StandUp®.
Studies have shown work-related injuries can substantially increase lost time and dramatically impact productivity. Standing also increases respiration and reaction alertness and allows the employee greater mobility. A sit/stand environment promotes beneficial postural changes and can improve comfort ratings by 26 percent.
“Many companies are going to great lengths to reduce workplace risk, prevent injuries and promote safety and awareness. The cost of not doing so simply has become too great,” says Rebecca Congleton Boenigk, Neutral Posture co-founder, CEO and Chairman of the Board, and a recent recipient of the nation’s premier award for excellence among women’s business enterprises bestowed by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
Boenigk says ergonomics also has a strong impact on cost savings and product quality which is driving the movement of leading companies integrating ergonomics deeply into all of their operations.
8 Tips to Give Your Workplace an Ergonomic Makeover
1) Stand Up for Your Work. Standing desks are popping up everywhere as research points to the serious health threats of sitting all day. Moving your workstation up to standing height for two hours a day (and putting a taller cylinder and footrest on your chair) will enable you to be more active.
2) Pay Homage to the Chair. If you do plan to sit all day, buy a good chair. An inexpensive, ill-fitting chair is going to do more harm than good. A good, ergonomic chair can be affordable, and in the long run will end up costing less.
3) Reduce Glare. Install a monitor arm. More and more people require glasses and contacts because of our dependence upon computers, tablets, and smartphones. Be good to your eyes by installing an adjustable monitor arm that will help reduce glare.
4) Arm Yourself with Support. Depending on your work surface and computer situation, there are products that you can use to support your arms and take the weight off of your neck and shoulders. Keyboard trays and forearm supports will bring your work surface to you, while also decreasing your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
5) Read the Directions. When you purchase a new chair or ergonomic accessory, spend some time learning about all of the adjustments and what fits you best. While there are recommendations about how to adjust your chair for the perfect ergonomic posture, known as the neutral posture, you may desire a different position.
6) Track your pain. If your pain is inconsistent or random, start keeping track of it. Be sure to note what you were doing before the pain hit. You might find a pattern that can help you resolve that pain. For example, if you realize that your feet only fall asleep when you sit in a certain chair during your morning staff meeting, lower the chair so that your feet touch the floor or sit in a different chair.
7) Get Moving. Schedule walking meetings. Take stretch breaks. Do what you need to do to stay active.
8) Consult an Ergonomic Expert. Ergonomics is the study of the body at work. Companies around the country are realizing that good office ergonomic programs actually save them money in lost time and cost due to workers absence and compensation claims. Designate someone in your company to provide ergonomic workstation assessments. If your office cannot have a specialist like this, enlist the help of an ergonomic consultant like Neutral Posture’s Dr. Jerome Congleton.
Ergonomics can keep workers healthier and do the same for your bottom line.
White Space, Inc., a full service woman-owned communications firm, regularly reports on breakthrough companies impacting the quality of our lives.