Should I buy a Car or an Ergonomic Workstation? – prioritize your budget

by Professor Ergo on June 18, 2009

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Get the most for your money by prioritizing your ergonomic product purchasing.  Should you spend your money on your car environment or your work environment?  One thing I find interesting is the money people spend on their cars for things like power seats, windows, door locks, mirrors, auto-transmission, etc.  Then they might spend ten hours/week in their car.  Of course there is nothing wrong with that; I like nice cars too.  But I start to question priorities when a person buys a car with all the bells and whistles then dismisses -based on high cost- an ergonomic chair, keyboard, mouse, keyboard tray, or electric height adjustable desk.  Home office users will often research cars until they find the perfect fit but then use a “hand me down” chair and desk that their parents gave them.

For arguments sake, let’s say that each day you sit in your car for an hour and at your desk for eight hours.  To address your musculoskeletal disorder related aches and pains, what environment should you concentrate on: your car or your desk?  Sounds like a no brainer right?  Before you buy that comfortable car, ask yourself if the car is a higher priority for you than an ergonomic workstation.

We all know that our job is where we make the money to buy that nice car.  Being comfortable and pain free at work is important for our productivity.  You are a professional athlete; without the ability to use a computer you may be looking for another line of work.  Many people are forced to severely restrict their computer use or are not able to use computers at all.  Treat yourself like a professional athlete and invest in your health by spending accordingly on health education, ergonomics, physical therapy, relaxation techniques, exercise, etc.

Avoid sitting in your $1000 car seat for thirty minutes then working for eight hours in a poorly designed chair that doesn’t meet Ergonomic Chair criteria.  It sounds funny that this could scenario could be very common, but I see it all the time while doing ergonomic office assessments.  People will argue against spending $500 for an ergonomic chair then hobble out to their nice car with a sore back.  If you need to, buy your own ergonomic chair, mouse, keyboard, etc. and bring them into work.  Take care of yourself by prioritizing your long term investments.

Ergonomic risk factors are defined in terms of posture, frequency, and duration.  Prioritize your purchases, decisions, and treatments based on those factors for best results.

And finally, try to be proactive in avoiding musculoskeletal disorders.  Curing chronic MSD’s is not something that anyone wants to do, and it can be very difficult to accomplish.  The only thing good about pain is it’s a great motivator of change so we should all listen to our pains and take action.  But people who are proactive in ergonomics and avoid pain and chronic injuries are far better off in the end.  Using your computer for long durations with high frequency mouse/keyboard movements and static seated postures raises the importance of an ergonomic computer workstation.

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Written by Professor Ergo

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