Why Ergonomics Matters in Healthcare
By Team Altus
Published Dec 11, 2018
| Updated Oct 13, 2022
| 5 min read
Healthcare workers show up every day for demanding jobs. They have to offer a high level of care to their patients, gather equipment, and work shifts which can be over 12 hours. All of these factors add to a stressful workday and a high chance of experiencing pain.
The secret to keeping hospital staff comfortable throughout the day and avoiding potential injuries is to design every workspace around ergonomics. Altus created this guide to make it easy to understand ergonomics and why it matters in healthcare. Keep reading to learn more.
What is ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the study of the body. It focuses on decreasing fatigue, stress, and discomfort through adaptable solutions that fit each user’s requirements. These requirements range from a clinician’s height, posture, and even position-specific job requirements.
Why is ergonomics important?
Each clinician’s optimal ergonomic position is different. Based on the factors above, even an inch can change the optimal ergonomic position. Having a workstation that can fit the clinician using it allows them to be comfortable while working.
Workstations that are ergonomically designed to have sit-to-stand height adjustment also help fight the occurrence of workplace musculoskeletal disorders. With as many as 73.2% of nursing professionals experiencing pain or discomfort in the past year, preventing these types of disorder are imperative. MSDs can lead to more than just discomfort, including nurses needing to leave work when the pain gets too great.
Ergonomics keeps clinicians comfortable for their entire shifts, so they can focus on improving the patient experience. Implementing ergonomically designed workstations provides nurses with relief from strain and insurmountable value to hospitals. So much so, that hospitals who have implemented ergonomic programs see a 21% decrease in time lost due to occupational injuries.
Ergonomics is even more important when breaking down how much a nurse is moving and lifting throughout a shift. The average nurse lifts up to 1.8 tons per shift. That much weight over the course of an 8-hour shift can lead to significant strain, nurse burnout, and even nurses leaving the field from the pain they feel every day. Implementing ergonomic equipment helps avoid this.
What features do ergonomic workstations have?
When looking at the different computer carts designed for proper ergonomics, there are major features required. Without these features, nurses will continue to feel the strain.
The first, and most important, feature is height adjustability. Ergonomic workstations need to meet the needs of nearly every nurse in the 5th - 95th percentile. With this grouping being covered, workstations allow most nurses to change positions from sitting to standing and adjust their positions to keep from getting sore muscles. Within height adjustability, there are other options as well. Hospitals can choose between an ergonomically-designed lever to lift the worksurface to the desired height, or on powered carts, they may have the option for an electric lift. All a clinician has to do is press a button, eliminating further strain.
Height adjustability goes a step further with the monitor. Computer carts that are as ergonomic as possible offer height adjustment and tilt to further fit the clinician using them. The ability to adjust the monitor to the optimal angle keeps nurses from straining to see the computer screen while inputting data into EMR or charting.
Ergonomic workstations are also engineered to provide adjustability in more ways than just height. Carts can come equipped with adaptability features. With wrist rests to support typing for extended periods of time along with a tilting keyboard, clinicians are able to chart at the optimal angles. This keeps staff from over-extending their wrists or feeling tension when staying in the same position for extended periods of time.
Ergonomic computer carts also feature an overall design built for mobility. From the casters to the handle, it all supports easy movement so clinicians do not hurt themselves while moving from patient room to patient room. Optimal casters engineered to let the cart easily glide on any surface keeps the push force low, and the risk of injury even lower. A properly positioned handle allows for easy grip on the cart so it doesn’t roll away when a clinician slows down.
Create ergonomic environments with Altus
Altus has spent more than 20 years manufacturing computer workstations for healthcare. Since the start, all Altus workstations have been engineered to be as ergonomic as possible so clinicians are empowered to help their patients and improve their delivery of healthcare. Throughout the years, Altus has been a pioneer in improving our carts to be more ergonomic with each iteration. No change is too small. It’s all done to help and input of healthcare workers.
Working with Altus for your computer carts means fostering a safe environment within your hospital’s walls. Each workstation, whether powered or non-powered, keeps clinicians comfortable for their whole shift and keeps the risk of injury at a minimum. From the start of their shift to the end, Altus has clinicians covered.
Contact us to learn more about our ergonomic computer carts, and how they can create an ergonomic environment in your hospital.