Phil Castle, The Business Times
Given the potential health hazards involved, prolonged sitting has been described as the new smoking.
Office furnishings that can be adjusted to allow users to stand or perch — or at least provide a more comfortable work space — can help. But teaching employees how to set up and use their work stations is just as crucial, according to Dave Huerkamp, vice president of sales and marketing for ProSpace Interiors, a commercial and health care furniture dealership with locations in Grand Junction and Delta.
“The education component is the most important,” Huerkamp said.
To that end, Huerkamp and Michael Moore, an accountant manager at ProSpace Interiors, have completed instruction to become Certified Office Ergonomic Evaluators to assess work spaces and offer recommendations.
It’s a matter of not only reducing health hazards, but also improving productivity and employee morale, Huerkamp said.
Long-term studies have concluded prolonged sitting can be hazardous to your health, contributing to diabetes, heart disease and obesity, Huerkamp said.
While people who worked in offices used to regularly leave their desks to file paperwork, make copies or handle other duties, computers now take care of most of those functions, he said.
Desks, chairs and other office furnishings have evolved over the years to reduce the fatigue and discomfort associated with prolonged sitting, Huerkamp said. Furnishings that offer employees the ability to sit or stand at their work stations have become increasingly popular.
Moore said one study found that the use of sit and stand work stations improved productivity 46 percent.
It’s not only a matter of purchasing furnishings, though, but also helping employees properly use them, Huerkamp said. In other situations, existing furnishings can be adjusted to work better, he added.
A basic office ergonomic consultation can help, Huerkamp said. The three-step process starts with an evaluation of the job functions of employees as well as their workstations, including desks, chairs, computer monitors and keyboards. The second step is to identify potential problems and recommend solutions. The third step involves followup to determine if conditions have improved or additional assistance is needed.
One common problem, he said, is that employees tend to adapt to workstations instead of the other way around.
In addition to properly setting up furnishings, it’s important employees take brief breaks at least every hour to exercise, stretch or just move around, he said.
Just like smoking, prolonged sitting over a long-term basis can be hazardous to health. But the right furnishings and education can reduce those hazards, Huerkamp said.
ProSpace Interiors operates a showroom at 634 Main St. in downtown Grand Junction. More information is available at www.prospace.biz.