11 Aug 2015
August 11, 2015

Standing Workstations

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Are they the answer to the health risks of prolonged sitting, the new buzzword in ergonomics or the next marketing opportunity?

"Market trends which are adding momentum to such investments may, however, be moving at a faster pace than the related and supporting evidence base can be produced." (British Journal of Sports Medicine.)

The Journal makes the interesting point that, "there are, however, strong indications that simply changing the office environment might not be enough to invoke long-term change in behaviour." We need to change our thinking to focus on the real issue below this argument. Movement. Getting staff up and moving. As the Journal says, creating "movement friendly spaces for purposeful as well as non-purposeful movement."

The Alexander Technique teaches, "use affects function." It is what we are doing with our body, which determines the outcome or results. The key to how successful stand up workstations are is not the fact that they are put into workplaces but how well staff use their bodies while standing at them. Back pain can result from standing poorly in the same way that it is caused by sitting poorly.1. The rule must always be active, rather than passive sitting or standing. In the case of standing that means softening the ankles, unlocking the knees to allow the pelvis to hang naturally under the spine, the back to be long, wide and soft, the shoulders to be open and wide, allowing the neck to be soft and the head to balance and move from the first joint of the spine.

The answer to productivity at the workstation may result from a combination of standing and sitting suggesting that any investment in a standing workstation must be one which easily transverses the heights to allow standing or sitting. In addition, workstations need to be free of clutter so that the transitions can be easily made. This would allow for smooth transitions from sitting to standing as staff build up to the recommended 4hrs a day of standing at a workstation.

Work Health and Safety is always about The Management Team leading and the Staff accepting their responsibility for their part in Work Health and Safety. It is also always about long-term behavioural change. "There are, however, strong indications that simply changing the office environment might not be enough to invoke long-term change in behaviour." BJSM

Download the original BJSM article here

Footnote.
1."Similar to the risks of prolonged, static, seated positions, so too should prolonged, static, standing postures be avoided; movement does need to be checked and corrected on a regular basis especially in the presence of any musculoskeletal sensations." BJSM

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