Making the Workplace Fit Everyone

A recently published study by the Centre for Public Health Research at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, polled randomly selected men and women on a number of occupational hazards. The study showed that, among men and women who worked in the same occupation, women were “more likely to report awkward or tiring [working] positions.”

There are a number of possible causes for this, but the most likely is also the most logical: many women are required to work in workplaces that are designed for men. This does not mean that these workplaces were built specifically for men, but that their general setup and dimensions are more accommodating to larger/taller people—men, for the most part.

In the United States, the average man is roughly 5-foot, 9.4 inches tall, whereas the average woman is 5-foot, 4.6 inches in height. A nearly-five inch difference a rather significant one. Using a worktable that’s five inches too high may not be a problem for a few minutes, but over the course of an eight-hour (or longer) workday, it can take a physical toll. And it goes both ways: a workstation that’s five inches too low would quickly become uncomfortable as well. Extended discomfort can easily lead to chronic fatigue or other kinds of injuries. And injuries, of course, lead to lost work time and productivity.

So, what can employers do to better accommodate the height differences among their employees? The best solution is to implement adjustable height desks, adjustable height worktables and adjustable height workbenches into their facility. With manual, hand crank, or electric height-adjustable legs built in, these workstations make it easy for shorter workers to lower the work surface, and for taller workers to raise it to the desired height.

Adjustable height workstations may cost a bit more, but that extra dollar amount can be quickly made up for thanks to increased productivity and efficiency by workers using these adjustable workstations. With less potential for injury, down time will be greatly reduced as well. And, with improved comfort comes an all-around happier workforce, which can be of immeasurable advantage. Adjustable height workstations will make your workplace fit everyone, to the benefit of all.

You can read the full report of the Massey University study here, and further commentary on the report here.