By Erin Ollila
Most facilities managers know that addressing and incorporating it into company culture has been known to reduce injuries and increase productivity. But what's the best way for you to put it into practice at your facility? Here are six areas every facility manager needs to consider when bringing ergonomics into their work space.
As a facilities manager, you are often involved in the purchase and installation of furnishings that help employees work comfortably. But don't forget about the position of those furnishings. Any structures should be easy to maneuver around. Limit the amount of potential roadblocks your employees have to walk around or over. Energy-absorbent floor surfaces can benefit employees who spend much of their time standing.
Similarly, think about your employees' particular needs when designing a space. For example, in an office setting, there should be one central location for shared printers, scanners and shredders. The same goes for supplies; they should all be in one space. The less distance the staff needs to travel to do their job, the more productive they'll be.
Adjustable Work Surfaces
The height of work surfaces plays a large role in ergonomics. However, all employees aren't the same height, which is why it's important to purchase desks and other surfaces that are adjustable for the user. Employees should be in a body-neutral position while sitting and standing. The width of the desk or surface is a large factor in purchasing, as well. Employees need enough space to place all of the accessories and tools they're using, yet they also must be able reach everything comfortably, without needing to strain for anything.
Chairs and Footrests
A truly ergonomic environment should have chairs that are adjustable, as well as footrests for employees whose feet don't touch the floor. Other suggestions for ordering include chairs with both lumbar support and a five-caster stability base. Consider armrest height and width for easy mobility. Footrests should be slanted for comfort and height ranges, and desks should be wide enough to comfortably fit them underneath.
Lighting and Screens
Lighting is extremely important in a work environment. It sets the mood and tone, and can either drive employees to work better or further agitate their working conditions. Work surfaces need lighting that will reduce glare and also improve contrast. However, when using digital tools, such as computers, be sure there are options to adjust resolution, contrast and brightness, so each employee can set their screen for their own comfort level.
With normal speech being just over 60 decibels, you don't want conversations between colleagues or clients to get drowned out by the machines in your office. Check the noise factor on printers, shredders, fans, air conditioners and other equipment to make recommendations to those doing the purchasing.
While you may update your space to align with ergonomics, understand that some staff members will request special accommodations based on their personal needs. These may include different chair systems, new cubicle or office layouts, oversized monitors or other setups that allow your team to do their jobs better. Realize that some accommodations are temporary, while others may be long-lasting.
Working a few ergonomic considerations into your purchasing decisions can make a huge difference in your co-workers' comfort, happiness and productivity.