Keeping your employees healthy is important. Ergonomic seating and furniture for office space have been around for a few decades now, however it is just recently that they have begun to get popular. A question to ask is where did ergonomics originate from and how did it get implemented into the workplace? How did it evolve into what we have today? Ergonomics has actually had an interesting and has been an area of study for a long time.
Ergonomics Was Created In the 1850s
As early as the 1700s, people were documenting work-related injuries and what was causing them. You might think of workplace injuries as a modern issue, but as early as 1713, people were studying why injuries occur from labor. This led to the creation of the word “ergonomics” in 1857 which was a method to help increase comfort while working and reduce injuries. It is interesting to see the evolution of the word move from basic labor, towards pieces of equipment such as office chairs that are used to increase productivity and comfort. Ergonomic chairs are still a long way off at this point in history, but the wheels have been set in motion to get us to where we are today.
A Way To Increase Production
The next time we saw ergonomics mentioned was in the 1900s, as factories and bosses were trying to find ways to increase the productivity of their employees. They tested a variety of different methods, such as more comfortable seating, and different tools to accomplish tasks. What they found was that while they had to spend money to help employees out, the employees were able to triple their output at times. This led to many factories and workplaces looking for ways that they could help employees reach full production.
World War II and Post War
When it came to the war, many areas in the country were converted into factories to help with the war efforts. Because human labor was extremely high, they had to find ways to speed up the process and allow people to produce as much as possible. This led to creating more machines that people could use and interact with. Along with that, creating proper workspaces for someone to sit while working would allow them to work longer without fatigue.
Once the war ended, serious research began to be put into ergonomics and how the human body responds when sitting. These findings helped to prove what everyone thought about ergonomics. They did in fact increase the productivity of an employee but creating an environment where they are able to work longer and work more comfortably. The industry began to brainstorm different ideas of how they could incorporate ergonomics into their work more and how they could better the processes that were already in place. This led to people looking at pieces of equipment such as the chair for example and experimenting around with it to determine what made a person work best.
Fast Forward To Today
Looking back, we have come a long way from World War II, especially when it comes to the ergonomics of sitting. Science and the medical field now fully understand what happens to your spine when sitting in a chair that is not comfortable. With the medical field pushing out data to show the importance of an aligned spine and ergonomic seating, the furniture industry has responded by finding new ways to incorporate these levels of comfort.
You will find in your standard ergonomic chair there is going to be a headrest of sorts for your neck muscles to relax, armrests so you can rest your arm muscles, a cushioned back to soften the impact on your spine, and finally a soft surface to sit on which will reduce the amount of pressure that you put on your hips. If you look into fancier ergonomic chairs, you can find ones with lumbar support, that will help your lower back and reduce pain. It is interesting to see in the past twenty years how much the design of the chair has changed.
This leads us now to looking forward and seeing what the future holds for ergonomic chairs and furniture. Advancements have already been made to create spaces where people can lay down while working. Creating a chair or a piece of furniture is not difficult, creating one that is comfortable and healthy for people is another story. As we learn more and more about the body, we will begin to use that research to create better pieces of furniture and equipment for us to use. Fifty years down the road, our implementation of ergonomics might be incredibly different than what we have today. Do you use an ergonomic chair in your line of work?
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