Ergonomics and the Aging Workforce November 02 2016
Aging workers need to be especially thoughtful of how they’re positioning their bodies at work or during repetitive tasks. As with any employee or workstation, it’s important to incorporate ergonomic principles into daily habits based on our body types and particular tasks throughout the day. By acting “ergonomically” you can avoid injury, increase efficiency, and reduce mental stress. Pain, swelling, numbness, and tingling in the limbs are all associated with ease-of-use problems.
It’s imperative that we figure out ways to accommodate these workers since according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by the year 2030, nearly 1 in 4 (24%) of Americans will be over the age of 55. The workforce is growing, and senior citizens are remaining an important demographic.
Check out this short list of ways to help senior citizens be “ergo-safe” throughout the work week as well as in their daily lives:
1. Take Breaks
Taking regular breaks or pauses throughout the work day can prevent a slew of repetitive stress injuries. A good rule of thumb is to take a 5-minute break every hour whether it’s going for a short walk or taking a moment to hit the break room. Once you’ve taken a short break, you’ll find yourself feeling more refreshed mentally and physically to start or continue a task.
2. Design Your Workspace
Ergonomically, that is! Make sure you’re using appropriate lighting or an anti-glare filter if spending long hours reading over paperwork or at a screen. If you’re on your feet for long hours, consider an anti-fatigue mat or quality footwear that offers extra support. If you’re sitting for long periods of time, get the right chair to support your back or have a footrest under your desk. These types of minor adjustments can make a major difference when it comes to the long term, and we always recommend have an evaluation by an ergonomic consultant at your company to ensure your work space is at the appropriate height for your body type.
3. Work Smarter, NOT Harder
Straining your body or mind isn’t going to increase productivity; in fact, it could counteract it by causing fatigue or injury. Consider how you plan the workday for a senior citizen: Is there any way time, effort, or strain could be reduced? Is it possible to reassign workflow so to make collective labor hours more efficient?
As the workforce continues to develop and age, we must reevaluate how we work in the office environment and what is best for our minds and bodies.
Photo by Knight Foundation