Healthy employees at healthy workplaces Ergonomics in the workplace

Promote the health of your employees
Lower costs for illness-related absences and loss of production
Increase satisfaction and performance
Key points at a glance
  • Physical strain at the workplace: Musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequent complaints experienced by employees in Switzerland.
  • Health prevention: Sitting for long periods of time, one-sided strain, too little exercise – if you detect health risks at your company early on, you can prevent and reduce the number of health-related work absences in good time.
  • Ergonomic workspaces: With ergonomic workspaces and preventative measures, you help your employees promote health in their daily work.

What is meant by ergonomics in the workplace?

Ergonomics is the study of the conformity of man and automated work. Its aim is to design working conditions that are ideal for the needs of workers so that health burdens that can occur through the execution of repetitive or homogeneous sequences of movement are avoided in the long term to the greatest extent possible. An ergonomic workplace thus contributes to preserving the health and performance of your employees and helps you as an employer to reduce costs for the loss of work hours over the long term.

Ergonomics in the office

One well-known area of application is office life. Sitting in front of the computer for long periods often causes employees to have muscle tension and back aches. In fact, musculoskeletal disorders are among the most frequent complaints experienced by employees in Switzerland. 

With an ergonomic workplace, including an adapted office chair and ergonomically designed mouse, keyboard, and monitor, you can prevent chronic strain and improve the wellbeing of your employees for years to come. Ergonomic office furniture is therefore an important element for preserving the health of the musculoskeletal system.

Ergonomics and physical work

Employees benefit from an ergonomic workplace even when they are away from their desks. Those who work long hours with slouched posture or who have to do heavy lifting should be trained on a recurring basis on techniques that are good for the body.

Benefits for everyone involved

Employees as well as employers benefit from improved ergonomics in the workplace. By reducing strain in day-to-day work, you can boost the overall satisfaction of your employees. What’s more, you can preserve or improve their performance and motivation. From an employer’s perspective, this pays off in the form of lower costs for illness-related absences and loss of production.

Why is ergonomics so important?

Working at a computer places one-sided strain on the body and leads to pain and tension in the neck, shoulders, and/or back for around half of employees. The execution of repetitive sequences of movement can lead to strain for your employees, even when they aren’t sitting in front of the monitor. Neglecting ergonomic criteria translates into long-term issues, which could in some circumstances result in illness-related absences. By providing ergonomic equipment, instruments, or tools and ensuring they are correctly adjusted, you can thus make a major contribution to health in your company.

Training on ergonomic guidelines pays off

The best office furniture is of no use if it is not properly set up and the spine gets too little movement during everyday working conditions. Long-term success is only possible with the necessary fundamental knowledge of ergonomics. This includes topics such as body awareness and important alarm signals, the correct setting up of furniture, the management of breaks, and compensating movement.

Training employees on more careful work techniques and increasing awareness for healthier physical activity are equally important for the health of your SME. 

AXA’s offer regarding workplace ergonomics

Healthy and motivated employees form the basis of every company. That’s why we support you with a comprehensive offering in the area of corporate health management. In addition to advice on how to reintegrate employees who have had an accident or been ill (care management) and offers on the prevention of stress and burnout, ergonomics in the workplace represents an important third pillar.

Overview of benefits

As part of corporate health management (CHM), the goal of ergonomics in the workplace is to reduce illness-related absences and promote the performance of your employees. This is achieved through the optimal design of workplaces, which account for the individual needs of the employees, in addition to subject-specific training. Traditionally, this work is completed in two steps:

  • Workplace assessment: Our occupational safety experts check out the workplaces and work sequences of your company on site. The result: Health hazards can be identified and replaced with more ergonomic alternatives. 
  • Workshops: Our workshops last from half a day to several days and will raise your employees' awareness about the enormous long-term value of healthy motion behavior. We devise measures so that each individual can reach the specified goals; we draw up a practical implementation plan based on the measurement results, and generate motivation through additional success monitoring.

Support and frequently asked questions

  • Are companies obligated to make their workstations with computer screens ergonomic?

    Under labor law (in German) in Switzerland, workstations with computer screens must be ergonomically designed and equipped so that bodily injury and work-related illnesses (such as back pain) among employees can be avoided. Both the desk and the office chair must therefore be adjustable for height. There are no legal requirements with regard to technical equipment. Employees are not entitled to an ergonomically designed mouse or keyboard. Instead, many companies provide their employees with such ergonomic equipment on request. 

  • How do I sit ergonomically at my desk?

    To avoid excessive strain on your back and neck when you work longer periods at the screen, you should make sure your office chair and the desk height are suitably adapted to your height. The placement of the monitor, keyboard, and mouse also plays a decisive role in sitting in an ergonomically correct way.

    To find out more details on how to position the individual components of your workplace, read our blog on the subject "Checklist: Office ergonomics – getting it right". From the setting of your backrest to height-adjustable desks, you can find all the information you need for healthy working at a workstation with a computer summarized here.

  • At work I sit in the office for many hours on a daily basis and I am concerned about my health. How can I ensure that I move more during working hours?

    Genetically, humans were not made for sitting down for hours at a time without moving. Regular movement is important. Please therefore note the following tips:

    • Change your sitting position regularly, for example by sitting upright on the front edge of your desk chair
    • Set the chair's backrest so that it can be moved
    • Stand up regularly when you can – for making calls, examining documents, etc.
    • Use the standing desk several times daily provided you have one available.
    • Take frequent short breaks to move around: Walk to the printer, walk a few strides while drinking your coffee, go out for a walk during lunchtime
    • Take the stairs rather than the elevator Walk instead of taking the bus
  • When I work from home, I often suffer from back pain. How can I reduce bodily strain?

    To reduce one-sided strain when working from home, you should make sure that your computer workstation is as ergonomically designed as possible. It is recommended to work at a desk, for example, and not to escape to the couch for the sake of convenience, since this has negative effects on your sitting position.

    The most important information on how to set up a computer workstation can be found in our blog "Checklist: Office ergonomics – getting it right".  By adhering to these tips, you ensure that the technical equipment is best geared to your individual needs. 

    It is especially important when working from home that you always make conscious changes in movement, since typical interruptions such as walking to the next meeting are often no longer part of the work day. For this reason, it is advisable to stand when you talk on the phone or deliberately go to the kitchen for coffee. A height-adjustable desk can also provide more variety. Tip: If you don’t have a standing desk at home, you can make an alternative one with an ironing board and a box.

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