My friend Linda was telling me about how when she first graduated from high school back in 1972, no one had even heard the word ergonomics. The different companies that she worked for during the early years of her career were not overly concerned with the comfort or safety of their employees. As long as they weren’t hit with any OSHA fines, that was all they cared about. In fact, climate control inside the offices were almost non-existent (unless you were the boss!). Back then, there were no laws that required that the employers to provide their employees with heating or air.

When she told me about that, visions of the televised versions of “A Christmas Carol” came to mind, where Ebeneezer Scrooge’s poor, freezing, employee had to beg to have an additional coal put on the fire. Quite likely the only reason there was a fire at all was to keep the ink in the inkwell from freezing to tend the accounting ledgers! A more comfortable work environment became more abundant and routine with the introduction of machinery that required climate control. After all, the machines had to be maintained between certain temperatures in order for them to produce.

Along with the increasing strength of labor unions, working conditions for the laborer slowly improved, and eventually it was discovered, and encouraged, for businesses to consider using the theories of ergonomics to improve worker comfort, safety, health, and productivity. Devices were re-engineered to help the worker to assume better postures while sitting and standing and even to take stretch breaks!

Research indicated that these methods actually improved and increased worker comfort, and worker productivity. Even better, Worker’s Compensation claims started to decline. That was a BIG DEAL because when Worker’s Compensation claims decrease, then the Worker’s Compensation insurance premiums decrease. Reducing costs is generally a good thing! In addition, if the employee is able to work longer and be more productive then the employer does not have to spend more money training replacement employees! Another great benefit to actually taking care of their employees!

ID-100112942One of the hazards of working from home can be (but does not HAVE to be) the perceived lack of resources to invest in ergonomic products. The self-employed person may feel the economic pressure to “make-do” with hand-me-down items from decades past that are not ergonomically inclined.

For example, my friend Linda I mentioned – well, she sits at her computer for way too many hours without taking a stretch break. The desk she has her computer on is her old wooden student desk from when she was in third grade. She tells me that she suffers from a stiff neck and sore shoulders. I don’t think that it is too much of a stretch to figure out that she needs to get rid of that old desk and bring in one that is ergonomically correct, and to make sure that she gets a good chair, too! Before you think finding “ergonomic chairs/desks” sounds like a difficult task for someone that has no idea what to look for; search resources like Sit Better to get idea of what to look for and how to get a chair/desk matched to your exact physical specifications.

One of the most important things that a self-employed person should keep in mind is to take care of themselves! If they are in too much pain to work, then how in the world are they going to be able to produce income and pay the bills? This really should be a no-brainer! I think I’ll send a few links to some ergonomic desks, chairs, and computer accessories to Linda and suggest that it is time she started to take care of herself for a change!

This is a Guest Post by Sara Stringer

About the author 

Contributor

  • Good suggestions for at home workers here. Simple things like breaks and stretches can do a lot oif good. So can simple office tweaks like ergonomic mice and keyboards. Standing desks start getting price, but inexpensive models can be found too.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >