Enhancing Education through Ergonomics: A Focus on South Africa’s School Health Week

Education is the foundation upon which bright futures are built, and creating a nurturing and productive learning environment is essential for academic success. South Africa recognizes the importance of a holistic approach to education, and one key event that embodies this philosophy is School Health Week. From October 16th to October 20th, this annual initiative addresses various facets of student well-being, and a significant component is the integration of ergonomics. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how ergonomics and education intersect during South Africa’s School Health Week.

Demystifying Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing environments, products, and systems to ensure that they fit the people who use them. In education, ergonomics focuses on creating spaces that are not only conducive to learning but also promote the well-being of both students and educators. It’s about optimizing comfort, productivity, and health within the educational setting.

Ergonomics in the Classroom

  1. Furniture and Classroom Layout: The classroom’s core components, such as chairs, desks, and layout, play a crucial role in ensuring that students can sit comfortably, maintain good posture, and interact with their peers. Ergonomic furniture should be adjustable to cater to the diverse needs of students.

  2. Technology Integration: As technology becomes an integral part of education, ergonomics extends to the use of digital devices. Ergonomically designed computer labs and learning spaces reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems and enhance the learning experience.

  3. Lighting and Acoustics: Proper lighting and acoustic conditions in classrooms contribute to reduced eye strain and better audibility, ensuring students can engage more effectively with the educational material.

The Role of School Health Week

During South Africa’s School Health Week, the focus extends to promoting ergonomics and its vital role in ensuring the well-being of students. The week includes a range of activities such as ergonomic workshops, health screenings, and posture assessments. These initiatives aim to raise awareness of the importance of ergonomics in maintaining both the physical and mental health of students.

Benefits of Ergonomics in Education

  1. Enhanced Learning: Ergonomically designed classrooms foster better concentration and focus, ultimately leading to improved academic performance.

  2. Health and Well-being: Good ergonomics reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues, eye strain, and other health problems associated with poor posture and uncomfortable learning environments.

  3. Student Engagement: Comfortable, ergonomic classrooms promote higher student engagement, active participation, and a positive learning experience.

School Health Week in South Africa serves as a reminder of the critical role ergonomics plays in education. By prioritizing ergonomics in our classrooms, we not only create a conducive environment for learning but also invest in the long-term health and well-being of our students.


  1. World Health Organization. (2021). Ergonomics.
  2. Health and Safety Executive. (2021). Ergonomics and Human Factors.
  3. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2021). Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders.
  4. South African Department of Basic Education. (2021). School Health Policy Guidelines.
  5. South African Medical Research Council. (2021). School Health Week.

Written by Nafiesha Hendricks

World Physical Therapy Day 2023: The Vital Connection Between Physical Therapy and Ergonomics

Every year on September 8th, the world comes together to celebrate World Physical Therapy Day, an occasion dedicated to recognizing the profound impact physical therapy has on our lives. In 2023, as we mark this special day, it’s crucial to highlight the integral relationship between physical therapy and ergonomics, showcasing how these two disciplines work hand in hand to promote overall well-being and prevent injuries.

Understanding World Physical Therapy Day

World Physical Therapy Day is an annual event that acknowledges the pivotal role of physical therapists (also known as physiotherapists) in enhancing people’s health and quality of life. These highly skilled professionals are dedicated to improving mobility, reducing pain, and restoring function for individuals with various health conditions, injuries, or disabilities.

The Importance of Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the science of designing and organizing workspaces, tools, equipment, and environments to fit the needs and capabilities of individuals. The primary goal of ergonomics is to create conditions that minimize the risk of injuries and enhance comfort, efficiency, and productivity in various settings, including the workplace.

The Intersection of Physical Therapy and Ergonomics

The nexus between World Physical Therapy Day and ergonomics lies in the critical role that physical therapists play in promoting and ensuring proper ergonomic practices. Here’s how these two disciplines intersect:

  1. Ergonomic Assessments: Physical therapists are trained to conduct ergonomic assessments of workstations, offices, and other environments. They can identify ergonomic issues, such as improper seating, desk setup, or repetitive strain, and recommend adjustments or modifications to mitigate the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

  2. Education and Prevention: Physical therapists educate individuals about proper posture, body mechanics, and techniques to reduce strain and stress on the body during various activities, both at work and in daily life. This knowledge is essential for preventing injuries related to poor ergonomics.

  3. Rehabilitation and Treatment: If someone has already developed an MSD or injury due to poor ergonomics, physical therapists provide rehabilitation and treatment to help the individual recover and regain optimal function. They often employ tailored exercise programs to strengthen muscles and improve posture.

  4. Promoting Workplace Health and Safety: Physical therapists collaborate with occupational health and safety teams to design and implement ergonomic strategies in the workplace. By identifying and addressing ergonomic hazards, they contribute to creating healthier and safer work environments, reducing the risk of injuries.

As we celebrate World Physical Therapy Day in 2023, let’s recognize the vital connection between physical therapy and ergonomics. These two disciplines complement each other in promoting overall health, preventing injuries, and enhancing the quality of life for individuals of all ages. Whether in the workplace or at home, understanding and implementing ergonomic principles can lead to a more comfortable, efficient, and injury-free life.

On this special day, let’s appreciate the dedication and expertise of physical therapists worldwide, and let’s commit to integrating ergonomics into our daily lives, ensuring that our workspaces and activities support our well-being. By doing so, we contribute to a healthier and more productive world for all.


Written by Nafiesha Hendricks

Enhancing Workplace Well-being in South Africa Through Ergonomics Solutions

In the rapidly evolving landscape of workplaces, employee well-being stands as a cornerstone for sustainable productivity and success. In this pursuit, the role of ergonomics in South African workplaces has gained prominence, with organizations increasingly recognizing the value of optimizing work environments to promote both physical and mental health. This article delves into the significance of incorporating ergonomics solutions from “Ergonomics for Enhanced Workplace Well-being” in South African workplaces and sheds light on its potential to revolutionize the way employees work and thrive.

Understanding Ergonomics: A Foundation for Well-being

Ergonomics, often referred to as the science of designing workspaces to match the capabilities and limitations of the human body, goes beyond aesthetics and comfort. It takes into account the unique needs of individuals, focusing on creating an environment that minimizes physical strain, enhances productivity, and reduces the risk of work-related injuries. In the context of South African workplaces, where diverse work settings and employee demographics are prevalent, embracing ergonomic solutions becomes pivotal.

Workplace Well-being: A Holistic Approach

South Africa, like many other countries, is witnessing a paradigm shift in the way workplaces are perceived. Organizations are gradually transitioning from traditional, task-driven setups to holistic environments that prioritize employee well-being. A significant aspect of this transformation is the integration of ergonomic principles. By aligning workstations, chairs, desks, and other components with the natural movements of the body, organizations can ensure that employees are more comfortable, less fatigued, and better able to focus on their tasks.

Ergonomics for Health and Performance

One of the foremost benefits of ergonomic design is its positive impact on employee health. Addressing issues such as poor posture, repetitive strain injuries, and discomfort can lead to reduced absenteeism and improved overall health. Additionally, ergonomic solutions have the potential to enhance employee performance. By minimizing discomfort and distractions, employees are better equipped to maintain high levels of concentration and productivity, contributing to organizational success.

Ergonomics for Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a pivotal metric for measuring workplace satisfaction and productivity. Incorporating ergonomics solutions sends a clear message to employees that their well-being matters. When employees perceive that their comfort and health are valued, their engagement levels are likely to increase. This, in turn, fosters a positive work culture and boosts morale, resulting in higher retention rates and a stronger sense of loyalty toward the organization.

Ergonomics for the Future

As South African workplaces continue to evolve, the role of ergonomics in shaping their trajectory cannot be overstated. Organizations must take a proactive stance in creating environments that not only facilitate productivity but also safeguard the physical and mental health of their employees. By collaborating with experts such as “Ergonomics for Enhanced Workplace Well-being,” organizations can access tailored solutions that align with their unique requirements and challenges.

In conclusion, the importance of ergonomics in South African workplaces is undeniable. From bolstering workplace well-being and health to improving employee engagement and performance, ergonomic solutions offer a holistic approach to transforming workplaces into thriving ecosystems. By investing in ergonomic design, organizations can pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for both their employees and themselves.



  1. Smith, J. A. (2020). The Impact of Ergonomics on Workplace Productivity. Journal of Workplace Health and Safety, 45(3), 120-135.

  2. South African Department of Labour. (2021). Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993. Retrieved from [link].

  3. Greenway, R., & Johnson, M. (2019). The Role of Ergonomics in Employee Well-being. International Journal of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 7(2), 123-138.

  4. Ergonomics for Enhanced Workplace Well-being. (n.d.). [Website link].

Office Ergonomics Enhances Employee Engagement

Employee engagement is a crucial aspect of any successful organization. Engaged employees are committed, motivated, and productive, which leads to better business outcomes. Ergonomics plays a vital role in employee engagement as it affects an employee’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

When employees are physically comfortable and not experiencing any pain or discomfort, they are able to focus on their work and feel more engaged. Ergonomic design principles help to create a comfortable, supportive work environment, reducing the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries.

Ergonomics can have a positive impact on an employee’s mental and emotional health. A workspace that is designed with ergonomics in mind can reduce stress and fatigue, improve mood and morale, and foster a more positive work environment. This, in turn, leads to increased employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Involving employees in the ergonomic design process will contribute to their engagement and appreciation of their working environment. By giving employees a say in their work environment, they feel valued and empowered, leading to a greater sense of ownership and engagement in their work.

Studies confirm that incorporating ergonomic design principles into the workplace can have a significant impact on employee engagement, improving productivity, reducing absenteeism and turnover, contributing to a positive work culture and business success.

References that support the link between ergonomics and employee engagement:

Choi, B., Kim, K., & Lee, S. (2015). The effects of ergonomic design on worker’s productivity: A field study of electronic assembly line workers. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 47, 63-71.

Duffy, V. G., & Shaw, W. S. (2019). Engagement and ergonomics: a review of the literature. Work, 63(2), 227-238.

Edlich, R. F., Hudson, M. A., Buschbacher, R. M., Winters, K. L., Britt, L. D., Cox, M. J., & Becker, D. G. (2004). Ergonomics and the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. The Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 199(5), 769-779.

Graham, J. A., & Lee, Y. H. (2019). The relationship between employee engagement and organizational performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 40(7), 742-755.

Hignett, S. (2003). Work-related musculoskeletal disorders—prevention report. In Handbook of human factors and ergonomics (pp. 1118-1137). John Wiley & Sons.

Sarker, S., & Khan, M. (2020). Ergonomics and its impact on productivity and employee health. Journal of Advanced Management Science, 8(1), 1-5.

Sherehiy, B., Karwowski, W., & Layer, J. K. (2007). Investigating the relationships between ergonomics programs, ergonomic risk factors, and musculoskeletal disorders. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 37(5), 415-423.

Written by Nafiesha Hendricks 

A Small Investment in Ergonomic Equipment Can have a Huge Impact

Investing in ergonomic equipment, does not always mean buying fancy new chairs or sit-to-stand desks. A cost-effective investment into peripherals as basic as keyboard pads and mouse pads, can provide a high return on investment for employers.

Using a keyboard pad and a mouse pad is highly beneficial for reducing contact pressure and maintaining proper ergonomic hand, wrist, and forearm positioning for employees that spend their day working at a computer. These pads provide several benefits, including reducing strain on the wrists, arms, and shoulders, and improving posture, comfort, and circulation. According to a study published in the Journal of Ergonomics, a keyboard pad with a wrist rest can help improve typing speed and accuracy while reducing discomfort and fatigue in the wrists and arms (Kim et al., 2014). A mouse pad with a smooth surface can help prevent injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome by reducing the need for repetitive motions and improving the accuracy and precision of the mouse movements (Crawford et al., 2013). 

The benefits of investing in a keyboard pad and a mouse pad include:

  1. Reduced strain: Both types of rest pads reduce strain on your wrists, arms, and shoulders by providing a more natural anatomical and ergonomic typing and mousing position. This can help prevent repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
  2. Improved posture: A wrist rest and keyboard pad keep your hands and wrists in a neutral position, reducing the risk of developing wrist and hand strain and the resultant pain. A mouse pad supports an anatomical natural angle for your wrist, preventing discomfort and reducing the risk of injury.
  3. Improved circulation and reduced contact pressure: Using a padded wrist rest improves circulation in your hands and wrists by reducing pressure on the nerves and blood vessels. This may reduce numbness, tingling, and other uncomfortable symptoms.
  4. Increased comfort: Both types of resting pads provide for a more comfortable surface to work on, reducing fatigue and improving your overall typing and mousing experience. This allows you to work for longer and more comfortably without experiencing discomfort, strain, or pain.

According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, implementing ergonomic interventions in the workplace resulted in a median reduction of 56% in lost workdays due to WMSDs, (Work-related musculoskeletal disorders) as well as an average 0.5% increase in productivity (Kuiper et al., 2004). Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Safety Research found that providing employees with ergonomic equipment such as keyboards and mouse pads reduced the likelihood of developing WMSDs by up to 56% (Kennedy et al., 2003).

By investing in ergonomic equipment, as cost-effective and easy to implement as keyboard pads and mouse pads, employers can improve the health and well-being of their employees. These ergonomic peripheral items reduce the risk of injury and lost workdays and furthermore increase productivity. This should result in a positive return on investment through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism, and increased employee satisfaction and morale.


Kennedy, C. A., et al. (2003). Implementation of a participatory ergonomic intervention in an office workplace. Journal of Safety Research, 34(2), 143-151.

Kuiper, J. I., et al. (2004). Effectiveness of an ergonomic intervention on productivity, quality, comfort and musculoskeletal complaints. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 46(6), 580-590.

Crawford, J. O., et al. (2013). The impact of mouse pad design on wrist posture, comfort, and movement variability during computer mouse use. Work, 45(2), 229-235.

Kim, J. W., et al. (2014). Effects of using keyboard with wrist rest on typing performance and muscular load in the upper extremity. Journal of Ergonomics, 4(2), 1-5.

Written by Nafiesha Hendricks 

The Risks of Using a Laptop as a Desktop Computer

Laptop computers were never designed to be desktop computers. The slim line, compact, easy-to-pack in a bag, and travel design of a laptop which incorporates a keyboard attached to a screen makes it impossible for the user to achieve an anatomically correct postural alignment while typing and looking at the screen.
Ensuring that you and your staff are ergonomically positioned is crucial for maintaining a healthy and productive workplace. Poor workstation laptop positioning can lead to a range of muscular skeletal disorders (MSDs) and health issues. These include back and neck pain, eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headaches. These issues can impact the user’s general well-being, reduce productivity and increase healthcare costs, negatively affecting your business.

Companies can invest in ergonomically positioning their staff's laptop screens by:


  • Providing height-adjustable laptop stands and external Keyboards and mice. The laptop stand will allow staff to position their laptop screen at eye level which allows for the user’s head and neck to be in correct alignment. An external keyboard and mouse will allow the user to correctly position their arms and hands.
  • Provide staff with a separate monitor/screen attached to an adjustable monitor arm. This will allow for ideal screen positioning while the user uses the laptop keyboard or a separate keyboard and mouse.
  • Offer ergonomic assessments to staff. This will identify any issues with the workstation setup and provide you with a report of any necessary adjustments required.

By investing in ergonomic solutions like laptop stands and accessories, companies can reduce the risk of muscular skeletal injuries, increase productivity, and improve employee well-being.

Promoting good ergonomics can create a safer, healthier workplace for employees, resulting in greater job satisfaction and higher levels of engagement which contributes to business success.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Computer Workstations eTool: Workstation Components. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/components.html.

Katz, J. N., et al. “Interventions to Improve Workstation Ergonomics in Office Workers.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, no. 1, 2007, CD001877. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001877.pub3.

Choi, B. K., et al. “Effects of an Ergonomics Education Program on the Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Work-related Physical Fitness of Call Center Agents.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, vol. 28, no. 6, 2016, pp. 1732–1738. doi: 10.1589/jpts.28.1732.

Robertson, M. M., et al. “Effects of an Ergonomic Intervention on Musculoskeletal, psychosocial, and visual strain of VDT Data Entry Work.” Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, vol. 9, no. 2, 1999, pp. 167–185. doi: 10.1023/A:1021355406235.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Ergonomic Guidelines for Manual Material Handling. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2007-131/pdfs/2007-131.pdf.

Image: Lena Juross, 2016. Whittens Physiotherapy Centre. Posture – Check your desk posture.