Ergonomic laboratory furniture might seem to us as another costly modern-world trend, but don’t let that fool you. The world is continuously changing, and the way people work follows these fast trends. It is only rational to assume the workplace has to be adjusted to suit the job description better. Let us take a closer look at why we should consider ergonomic furniture when designing a lab.
Ergonomics then and now
If we were to observe the evolution of ergonomics through a history lense, we could say the first traces of ergonomics appeared at the time humans started creating tools. People were in a constant search for different ways to enhance their equipment to make their tasks more manageable.
The industrial revolution of the 1900’s, on the other hand, created a genuine need for ergonomics. The production became highly dependent on human interaction with machines; thus the interest in improving that interaction started to grow. Labor unions had a significant influence on the further development of the field of ergonomics after World War II when worker safety joined the productivity as a concern.
A technology boom of the past decades has drastically changed people’s workplace and reduced to a highly sedentary style.
Time for a change
Lab workers once had the pleasure of moving around. Sadly, their movement slowly became a set of motions while sitting in a chair. The actions typically include bending, reaching and lifting, and paired with lousy posture; these motions are the leading cause of ergonomic disorders. There is a common misconception that ergonomic disorders come from a cause outside the workplace. A silly thing such as neck pain gets often wrongly attributed to the way we sleep, while we disregard the stress our body is going through while we are sitting in a chair at work.
Since laboratories are environments where people spend many hours doing repetitive and demanding tasks, it is only safe to say that people, who are working in ill-equipped labs, are exposed to a myriad of ergonomic risks due to the nature of their work and research.
A happy scientist makes a happy company
Ergonomics teaches us that, when we take into consideration all the health issues a workplace such as a laboratory might create for the workers, we have to think about the reflection of workers’ overall health on the laboratory itself. While a healthy worker is a productive one, an unhealthy worker is not only slowed down but could be an additional financial burden, as well. What employers have to face the most concerning costs are Worker’s Compensation and medical expenses. On top of that, there’s also absenteeism, staff replacement and retraining, staff productivity and so on. The expenses directly and indirectly related to the workers’ health often reach $150 billion per year.
To take care of the workers’ well-being and achieve lab efficiency, it is of high importance to appropriately address the topic of ergonomics and provide appropriate furniture for the lab workers. What today seems like an excessive, unnecessary step in equipping a lab proves its worth, in the long run, creating a healthy work environment and takes care of the company as well.