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 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. 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. 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 Enhanced Learning: Ergonomically designed classrooms foster better concentration and focus, ultimately leading to improved academic performance. 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. 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. References: World Health Organization. (2021). Ergonomics. Health and Safety Executive. (2021). Ergonomics and Human Factors. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. (2021). Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders. South African Department of Basic Education. (2021). School Health Policy Guidelines. South African Medical Research Council. (2021). School Health Week. Written by Nafiesha Hendricks

Computer Vision Syndrome and the Importance of Task Lighting

By Wendy van Wyk, Registered Biokineticist National Eye Care Awareness Month is commemorated from 21 September to 18 October 2022 by our Department of Health to raise awareness about the importance of eye health. Prolonged use of computers, smartphones, tablets or e-readers can cause computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms may include eye strain, dry eyes, double vision and more. These computer-related eye problems have become widespread. Up to 70 million workers are globally at risk of suffering from the condition, according to a report published in Medical Practice and Reviews, and that number is expected to continue growing. A key component of an ergonomic workplace often forgotten is lighting. Ergonomic lighting is essential for workplace well-being, and it plays a crucial role in preventing Computer Vision Syndrome. Improper lighting, whether it’s too little or too much lighting, contributes significantly to digital eye strain. Appropriate lighting, without shadows or glare, can reduce eye fatigue and headaches. Many people work on their computers in a relatively dark room with just a bright desk light. This causes illumination imbalance, forcing your eye muscles to contract and expand constantly to adapt. The different aspects of providing adequate lighting include light intensity, light temperature, glare control, and flicker. Lighting ergonomics not only helps in mitigating physical health issues, but it can also improve your mood and productivity. Using ergonomic task lights with adjustable brightness and variable colour temperatures are beneficial because they allow you to reduce the light to the perfect level of ambiance. Lighting should be pleasant and make you feel comfortable. Ergonomic lighting affects physiological and psychological factors which influence productivity. Lighting design should provide people with the proper visual conditions to enhance task efficiency. Make full use of natural lighting; use blinds to diffuse the natural light to avoid glare when needed. The following is a checklist of how to optimise the lighting conditions of your workstation. Position the workstation in relation to the light source to avoid shadows or glare. Monitors shouldn’t be surrounded by bright lights or placed in front of the window to avoid glare. Balance overhead and ambient lighting to avoid a strong contrast between lighter and darker areas. Use a damp cloth to clean light fixtures regularly – the dust on the bulbs can reduce the amount of light. Increase the number of light fixtures in the right places. Use light-coloured paints for walls and ceiling for reflection. Use task lighting and reflected light to get rid of shadows. At Ergonomicsdirect we care about our clients’ eye health, and in support of National Eye Care Awareness Month. If you are experiencing eye strain while you work, feel free to contact us – we’re happy to assist you. Till next time, please stay safe out there. Yours in Ergonomics, Wendy References https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282659056_Lighting_at_computer_workstations https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26444936/ https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0039625705000093 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2165079917712727

3 Benefits of an Ergonomic Footrest

3 Benefits of an ergonomic footrest

By Austin Harichuran (Ergonomic Evaluator, Head of Digital and Marketing at Ergonomicsdirect) This article is ideal if you’re interested in learning about the benefits of a footrest, or if you can relate/have experienced any of the following: (Swinging feet while sitting on a chair; back pain; poor posture; low productivity while working; fatigue; poor blood circulation; difficulties in concentration) For a long time, ADHD has controlled my ability to focus and be present in the moment. Besides the mental impact it had on me, I’ve developed a few physical habits over the years which have been more challenging to get rid of. Over the years, I’m happy to say that I’ve outgrown many of my mental challenges and I’m continuously aiming to improve myself whilst building new positive habits. From a young age, whenever I’d start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, my legs would start to shake rapidly and uncontrollably (imagine what campus life was like). Although emotions like anxiety aren’t exactly easy to outgrow, I’ve found a solution that helps control my anxiety and “happy feet” while I work. Besides the major impact ergonomics has had on my ability to focus, to my surprise, I’ve found myself getting “attached” to some of my products – more specifically today, my ergonomic footrests. https://ergonomicsdirect.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/20210921_132503_1.mp4 Here are the 3 benefits that I’ve found while using a footrest Promotes dynamic movement for my happy feet The “Tap-dance Foot Dance” (when my feet are on the ground), or “Swinging-Leg Shoo Dance” (when feet are hanging about) has been distracting over the last FOREVER. Knowing how disruptive it is and not being able to control it has been distracting and quite embarrassing at times. The Ergo Dynamic Frame and Board Footrest has been my top pick whenever my feet are in the mood to go somewhere, and I’m not. The easy-glide movement somehow allows my feet to dance around as they please. This allows me to stay at my desk longer without feeling the need to get up and walk about too frequently Improves blood circulation With my feet being as busy as they are, I’ve found that my feet tend to automatically go under my body onto the base of my chair. With the back of my knees then squashed against the seat pan for long periods, it’s no surprise that it affected my circulation, which caused pins and needles, along with fatigue. With my feet on a footrest, I no longer want to fall over when I get up from my desk. Happy to say – Monday only happens once a week for me now. Reduces back pain, when used with an ergonomic chair Back to basics. Because of the position of my feet, I wasn’t sitting right back in my chair and therefore wasn’t utilising the backrest or lumbar support my chair offers. This resulted in back pain, fatigue, and poor seating posture over time. A footrest helped push me further back in my chair, enabling me to use the backrest optimally. I’ve found that after two weeks of using the Ergo Height Adjustable Footrest, I’ve started to feel more comfortable, sitting right back in my chair for longer periods. The Ergo height adjustable footrest is dynamic and moves/tilts as you move your feet and legs, and it also has above-average height settings. For many years, footrests have been advertised as solutions for “shorter individuals” who work behind a desk. Although a footrest does provide a solid or dynamic higher platform on which individuals can rest their feet, it can be equally beneficial to taller individuals who require dynamic movement or improved circulation while seated. In summary, my advice would be: Maximise your chair’s lumbar support and reduce back pain by investing in an ergonomic footrest. To view Ergonomicsdirect’s range of ergonomic footrests, please click here. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort while you work, please contact us – our Ergonomicsdirect team will be happy to assist you in selecting your ideal ergonomic workspace solutions. Contact number: 021 426 2378 Email: info@ergodirect.co.za Wishing everyone a happy October 2021. Kind regards Austin (Ergonomic Evaluator, Head of Digital and Marketing at Ergonomicsdirect)

Ergonomics and the Evolution of Office Spaces

Blog - Ergonomics and the Evolution of Office Spaces

By Wendy van Wyk, Registered Biokineticist. I did an ergonomic assessment and workplace set up for a client this week- he purchased all the recommended products for his new home office. At the end of the install, I made sure that everything was positioned properly, and he was in the best possible posture. The next minute his phone alerted him of a notification, and to my dismay, he picked it up and immediately went into a hunched over, forward head posture to answer the message.  It made me realise once again that our digital world has changed the way we work and the way we set up workspaces. I easily solved his problem by adding one of our amazing Ergo flex device holders to his workstation, which will position his phone better and reduce postural strain.  Office spaces of today are much different from what they used to be. Since the dawn of the 20th century, workplaces were a lot less tech orientated – most business communication took place over landlines and in-person and documents were all hard copies. Offices have evolved from crowded spaces to shared workstations, from cubicle farms to remote and networked locations. The way we work is constantly changing as are the tools used to carry out work. The explosion of technology in the past decades has not only provided us with new tools but has also changed the way offices look, how businesses organize themselves, and much more.   The coronavirus pandemic has increased our collective screen time, and that’s particularly true on mobile devices. According to a new report from mobile data and analytics firm App Annie, global consumers are now spending an average of 4.2 hours per day using apps on their smartphones, an increase of 30% from just two years prior.  Smartphones, laptops, and 5G wireless connections mean that work is more and more something you do, and less a place you go to. As we continue to do more and more with less tech, the physical appearance of the office will be less tied to the hardware needed to carry out work. In today’s digital world, smartphones are used for just about everything. It’s not uncommon to spend hours on social media, texting, or watching videos on your phone or tablet.  Too much screen time affects your health in more ways than one. A condition called tech neck is a growing concern among healthcare professionals. All that time spent on digital devices is bad for your posture, your eyes, your heart, and your mood. Chronically having your neck in a forward, downward position results in headaches, neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, soreness, and more. Mobile devices aren’t going away. If anything, they are going to continue to change the way we work, study and connect with others. At Ergonomicsdirect we can assist in setting up your workstation correctly and providing products that can position mobile devices and computers better. Our passion is to help people improve workplace health, comfort & productivity in a practical and affordable manner. Contact me today on 066 170 0324 or wendy@ergodirect.co.za to do an ergonomics assessment, so I can advise on improving your workspace. Till next time, stay safe out there. Yours in Ergonomics Wendy References: https://www.bizjournals.com/ https://www.ivyrehab.com https://www.readersdigest.co.uk/ https://techcrunch.com/