According to the statistics per the annual Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, workplace injuries cost businesses more than $58 million per year. This amount has to cover the wages of the injured employees and the loss of the business. To overcome this annual loss, businesses need to make use of ergonomics. It is an applied science that learns the behavior and limitations of human abilities and makes use of this information for creating a safer and better work environment by reducing the discomfort and risks of injuries.
Ergonomics in a workplace must be applied so as to minimize the injuries by improving the body posture and allowing fewer motions and a better reach for things. In this regard, desks are the first thing that needs to be made ergonomically. Standing desks are more ergonomic than sitting desks but they also need to be accompanied by a few other things which are discussed in the detail below.
Why is a Sitting Desk Less Ergonomic?
Sitting all day long is bad. A commonly observed problem is back pain. Besides it, sitting increases the risk of a lot of other problems too and is counted as a sedentary lifestyle.
Increased Risk of Obesity
After working for long hours, you will feel an urge to eat something. You are gaining calories but are not utilizing them. It will definitely increase your weight. Even if you exercise in the morning, the benefits will be pushed around by the weight you are gaining by sitting in the same place.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
When one does not move his body parts for a long period of time (in this case legs), a blood clot also called a thrombus can be formed in one of the deep veins of that part. DVT can cause redness, swelling, pain, and cramps in the affected areas due to the blockage of the blood flow.
Chances of Cancer
Clotting of the blood increases the risk of heart diseases, improper blood circulation, and an increase in blood sugar levels. All these contribute to cancer. Kidneys, esophagus, stomach, prostate gland, ovaries, and even breast are at the risk of cancer. The risk is higher in women than men.
Decreased Life Expectancy
Disorders caused by long sitting hours can put your life at risk. DVT is curable if diagnosed early but there is no treatment for cancer. A study in 2012 has already demonstrated the higher risks of death among the people who sit more.
How is a Standing Desk More Ergonomic?
These aspects while following the principles of ergonomics make a standing desk more efficient as compared to a sitting desk:
It is one of the rules to stretch and move throughout the day so that the risk of diseases from sitting all day long can be reduced. While you are standing, you can easily move around a bit when tired and can do a quick shoulder stretch to release the tension. It also follows another principle of ergonomics which emphasizes reducing contact stress. Continuous contact increases the pressure on the contact area and there is a risk of developing pressure sores. The standing desk also minimizes this risk.
Improves Blood Circulation
Standing for at least two hours every day improves blood circulation. When you move your legs, blood flows normally without forming clots thus leaving no room for deep vein thrombosis. The heart does not have to exert pressure to supply blood to the lower limbs and prevent high blood pressure and coronary heart diseases that are common in people with a sedentary lifestyle.
Lowers the Risk of Diseases
Besides these, many other diseases can be prevented with the help of a standing desk. To demonstrate it, a group of people was observed for 4 weeks. They were given standing desks and their sitting time was reduced by only 66 minutes per day. Back pain and neck pain among these people was reduced by 54% and they enjoyed a good mood as compared to the people who were using a sitting desk all day long. Then the same people were given sitting desks again and the above effects were neutralized within 2 weeks.
Sitting all day long thickens the temporal lobe of the brain owing to memory loss and affected learning. It can be avoided by changing the lifestyle and practicing more standing hours during work. Standing for a few hours gives you an energy boost. Your mind is healthy, there is proper blood circulation, and you are free from back pain and the risks of other disorders. You are able to beat your stress and anxiety. There is no depression and fatigue owing to both physical and mental well-being. All these things contribute to bringing more focus to work and enhancing your productivity.
What is the Proper Ergonomics to Observe in a Workspace with Standing Desks?
There are a few things that you need to observe while working at a standing desk.
- Keep the screen at eye level. You should neither lower nor elevate your head to watch the screen. Moreover, there should be enough distance between your eyes and the screen. (Approximately it should be equal to the size of the screen)
- The tabletop should be around the level of the elbow and hands must be kept at the same level too. Moreover, the wrist should be 180 degrees from the forearm.
- The head must be placed over the spine so that from the side it must look like your ears are just above the shoulder.
- Shoulders should be placed a bit back and must not be curved forward.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Avoid high heels.
- Leaning one leg forward feels more comfortable. The position of the legs can be changed from time to time.
- Keep all the required things in reach. It is also one of the principles of ergonomics.
Are Standing Desks Ergonomic In Themselves?
No, standing desks are not ergonomic in themselves. There are some accessories that you need to use to maximize comfort and productivity.
Anti-fatigue mats are extremely comfortable and cushioned that absorb the shocks while you walk or stand on them thus reducing the fatigue in your feet and lower limbs. They are made of such a material that prevents slips and trips and helps you keep your balance when standing for long hours. It is a must-have accessory to make working on a standing desk more ergonomic.
Standing desk stools
High-length stools are important as they help you work in a neutral position (also a principle of ergonomics). These stools support your hips and take some of the bodyweight going easy on your feet. It gives an ideal perching position - neither sitting nor standing but a hybrid between them. It helps in relieving both back pain as well as heel pain.
To increase the productivity and efficiency of work done by humans, ergonomics plays an important role. In a workplace, standing desks turn out to be more ergonomic than sitting desks. They prevent disorders like back pain, obesity, deep vein thrombosis, and cancers, thus increasing life expectancy. Just buying a standing desk won’t help you. You must know how to stand at the desk rightly. Moreover, buy the accessories like anti-fatigue mats and standing desk tools to enjoy the benefits completely.