What is ergonomic?

Medical Dictionary definition: The applied science of equipment design, as for the workplace, intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort.

Ergonomic. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved December 09, 2013, from Dictionary.com website.

A workstation is typically where one person works at a particular task or operation. An office desk could be considered a personal workstation. For the use in a manufacturing environment what choices are available? Usually just a run of the mill wooden desk or stamped steel table is converted for use. This is usually far from optimal for the task(s) being performed at the station.

The use of modular aluminum framing offers the perfect solution, allowing infinite customization in today’s evolving manufacturing environment. Framing Tech has years of experience not just working with our products but applying them in many unique manufacturing environments from Pharmaceutical, clean-room, automotive, military, electronic assembly, etc.

The workstation should be configured using lean principals which allow only having materials and tools at the station that are required for that shift’s operation. Many options can be supplied to make the operator comfortable and maximize efficiency. Any small part requirements can be supplied within an acceptable reach-zone at optimal height and presentation via simple bin-rails or articulating arm assemblies. Other helpful options are on-station task lighting, power-strips, tool or cup holders, storage drawers, tool hangers, adjustable footrests, etc. Computers can also be effectively placed on or below the work surface as well as the monitor, keyboard and mouse, which can be located on a pullout drawer. Work tops can be wood, laminate, composite, chemically resistant, ESD, etc. The back uprights can contain back panels for noise abatement, privacy, process-document presentation and more. Height adjustability is also an option via hand-crank or electric motor actuation to allow for operators of different sizes to perform the same tasks in a comfortable fashion.

Using t-slotted aluminum framing allows for an evolving manufacturing environment. With product life cycles changing at a more rapid rate this type of workstation can easily be reconfigured by adding, subtracting or re-positioning optional equipment.

What are the benefits?

Increased Productivity

Making your workstation ergonomic increases your productivity – so it’ll take you less time to complete a task. And you’ll have more energy! You’ll also have greater job satisfaction. Even though you have to spend money on new workstations, it’s certainly cost effective. A secondary benefit is to get management involved with their work-force & asking for input from the operators on what might make them more efficient in the form of better product or tool placement, personal item storage areas, etc. The morale boost alone might be worth the expense of upgrading old work benches to a new high-tech, 21st century product.

Improved Health

We all know how important health and safety is to an office or manufacturing environment. Unfortunately, bad workstations are notoriously synonymous with carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries. If you make your workstations ergonomic, you’ll see a decrease in worker’s compensation claims. You’ll also see a decrease in worker absences.

Of course, simply making your workstation ergonomic won’t solve every problem. It’s always recommended that you step away from your workstation a handful of times during the day, perhaps to do a little exercise. You should light your office correctly so you’re not hurting your eyes, arrange your workspace, and do whatever else you can to improve the quality of your work day.

Chris Hill is the President and CEO of Framing Technology, Inc. Connect with him on  and Twitter.